In what amounts to a reversal of the usual “states’ rights” argument, a North Carolina Republican congressman has filed a bill – he calls it the Stop Pot Act – that would require withholding federal funds from any state or Native American tribe that allows the use of recreational marijuana.
The bill came not long after the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina announced its international to formally consider the idea of legalizing the sale and use of recreational marijuana on tribal lands.
The congressman, Chuck Edwards, released a statement that said, in part: “The laws of any government should not infringe on the overall laws of our nation, and federal funds should not be awarded to jurisdictions that willfully ignore federal law.”
By that definition, 23 states that have legalized recreational weed would lose federal funding, as well as Native American tribes in places such as Nevada and New York.
What The Stop Pot Act Would Do
Edward, in his statement, said the Stop Pot Act “will help prevent even greater access to drugs and ease the strain placed on our local law enforcement and mental health professionals who are already stretched thin.”
The bill calls for withholding 10% of federal highway funds from states and tribes that legalize recreational cannabis, which is still illegal at the federal level under the Controlled Substances Act. The act classifies cannabis as a Schedule I illegal drug, on par with heroin and cocaine.
The federal Department of Health and Human Services recently recommended that cannabis be moved from Schedule I to the less restrictive Schedule III.
Edwards also said in his statement that the bill would not impact “jurisdictions that authorize medical use of marijuana when prescribed by a licensed medical professional.”
Edwards Had Made His Intentions Known
The Stop Pot Act did not surprise those who had paid attention to the unfolding drama between Edwards and the Cherokee tribe in his home state. He had already written an opinion piece for The One Feather, a Cherokee media site, saying that “the Cherokee people should say no to pot.”
“I proudly consider the tribe my friends, and I respect their tribal sovereignty. But there are times when friends disagree, and I must do so regarding this question of legalizing recreational marijuana. The tribe’s rights should not infringe on the overall laws of our nation.”
He added that approval of recreational cannabis “would be irresponsible, and I intend to stop it.”
However, the Stop Pot Act goes far beyond just impacting the Eastern Band of Cherokee in North Carolina. It’s provisions would mean a loss of federal tax dollars for other tribes, as well as states where more than half of the American people live.