“We have to take the handcuffs off states.”
Rep. David Joyce is an unlikely figure to serve as co-chair of the Cannabis Caucus in the House of Representatives. After all, the four-term Republican is a former prosecutor who spent more than two decades promoting law and order in Geauga County, Ohio. His home state has hardly been a hotbed of support for marijuana legalization; Ohio’s medical marijuana program —although enacted in 2016—only got off the ground this year. In fact, Joyce is the first leader of the caucus from either party to represent a state that hasn’t enacted full legalization.
Joyce has a different perspective from many Democrats who support full legalization nationwide and stress the need to redress harms from the “war on drugs” that lead to mass incarceration for marijuana-related offenses. Instead, Joyce emphasizes “states’ rights”—that individual states should be able to determine their own path on marijuana without fear that the federal government will swoop in and start seizing property and making arrests.
But Joyce is no less adamant than liberal lawmakers about the need to resolve the conflict between state and federal laws. In particular, he emphasizes the threats to public safety that exist due to that tension, including the difficulties cannabis companies face accessing banking services.
“The time has come,” Joyce told POLITICO. “I’m amazed more people haven’t gotten killed. There’s so much cash sitting pent-up in these dispensaries and grow operations. That’s nuts.”
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