Background: Colorado legalized recreational marijuana in 2014, the first of 11 states. Medical marijuana legalization has spread to 33 states. But the drug is illegal under federal law, creating barriers for the industry.
A: At the October 9 debate, he said he supports federal legalization of marijuana. In addition, Gardner is a sponsor of a bill that would permit states to choose their own marijuana policies without federal influence. If the bill becomes law, states could legalize marijuna without worrying about federal intervention.
Opposes national legalization of marijuana
A: Hickenlooper opposed Colorado’s move to legalize recreational marijuana for adults in 2012, but touts his administration’s implementation of the constitutional measure.
At the debate, Hickenlooper answered “yes” to the question but qualified that he supports decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level.
In the past he has opposed federal action to legalize marijuana at the national level, saying states should make their own choices. But he does support the removal of cannabis from classification as a Schedule I drug.
Background: One major consequence of the federal-state split on marijuana legalization is the difficulty of banking. The U.S. House passed the SAFE Banking Act in 2019 to allow marijuana businesses access to financial services like loans, lines of credit and even bank accounts. These financial services are currently difficult to obtain because the drug is illegal at the federal level. The measure won bipartisan support, but has stalled in the U.S. Senate.
He’s a sponsor of the measure
A: Gardner is a lead Senate sponsor of the bipartisan measure and believes marijuana businesses should have access to banking, but he hasn’t been able to get it through the Senate. He said the legislation “gets Washington out of the way and gives them the access they need to do business and pay taxes.” He is also a sponsor of the bipartisan STATES Act to keep the federal government from interfering with marijuana businesses in states where it's legalized.
Yes, he supports the bill
A: Hickenlooper said he supports the measure -- and wants to go even further. He wants to amend the tax code, which he says now penalizes marijuana businesses by preventing them from accessing the same benefits as other companies. One way to level the playing field, he said, is to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level and let the states decide whether to legalize it.