Marijuana is still an illicit drug in the eyes of the federal government, even as more states legalize its use.
The contradictory laws have led to an “intolerable” situation, U.S. Attorney General William Barr recently told Congress, and it appears congressional Republicans, including 1st Congressional District Rep. Bryan Steil, are softening their stance on the psychoactive plant.
“Personally, I would still favor one uniform federal rule against marijuana, but if there is not sufficient consensus to obtain that, then I think the way to go is to permit a more federal approach so states can make their own decisions … so we’re not just ignoring the enforcement of federal law,” Barr said at a Senate hearing this month.
When Steil was asked during the election campaign about medical marijuana, he said he could see benefits but expressed concern about the drug falling into the hands of teens and other recreational users.
When asked this week about Barr’s comment, Steil’s office issued a statement, saying he has voted for a measure that would help marijuana companies in states where it is legal.
Federal law has kept cannabis businesses from using banks, resulting in the widespread use of cash and resulting costs to guard the money.
Steil supports a bipartisan effort to fix that problem.
“In March, I supported a bill in the (House) Financial Services Committee to clarify that businesses legally selling cannabis products in accordance with state laws are allowed access to banking services,” Steil said. “This bipartisan legislation, the SAFE Banking Act, is meant to address safety, tax compliance and even money laundering concerns.”
The full House has not voted on the bill.
Steil did not comment on other congressional efforts to protect legal-cannabis states from federal intervention.
It was unclear how far Steil is willing to go.
“I’ll continue working to protect the public and law-abiding businesses as legislators, law enforcement, federal regulators and others continue to sort through these conflicts,” Steil said.
Rep. Mark Pocan, D-2nd District, did not respond to a request for comment. Last year, he supported legislation that would have prohibited the use of federal resources to interfere with medical and recreational marijuana activities in states where these are legal.