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House Votes To Block Feds From Enforcing Marijuana Laws

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July 2019

The House of Representatives approved a measure to prevent the DOJ from interfering with individual state marijuana laws, including those allowing recreational use, cultivation and sales.

The amendment, would also shield cannabis laws in Washington, D.C. and U.S. territories, is attached to a large-scale appropriations bill to fund parts of the federal government for Fiscal Year 2020.

The inclusion of adult-use programs represents a significant expansion of an existing policy that protects only local medical cannabis laws from federal intervention which was first enacted in 2014.

The expansive attachment was approved in a floor vote of 267 to 165.  The tally is considered by legalization supporters to be an signal of the depth of support there is in Congress for a more comprehensive change to federal marijuana policies.

“This is the most significant vote on marijuana reform policy that the House of Representatives has ever taken,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. “Today’s action by Congress highlights the growing power of the marijuana law reform movement and the increasing awareness by political leaders that the policy of prohibition and criminalization has failed.”

“The historic nature of this vote cannot be overstated,” he said. “For the first time, a chamber of Congress has declared that the federal government should defer to state cannabis laws.”

The measure, sponsored by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Tom McClintock (R-CA), would bar the Department of Justice from spending money to prevent states and territories from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of marijuana.

“We’re watching the growth of this industry, a multibillion-dollar industry. We’re watching state after state move forward,” Blumenauer said in a floor debate on the state protection amendment on Wednesday evening. “Every one of us on the floor of the House who are here now represent areas that have taken action. We have had embedded in our legislation protections for medical marijuana. And this would simply extend that same protection to prevent the Department of Justice interfering with adult use. I strongly, strongly urge that we build on the legacy that we’ve had in the past, that we move this forward to allow the federal government to start catching up to where the rest of the states are.”

House Democratic leadership urged their conference to support the measure in a whip email on Thursday, and only eight members of the party voted against it.

Lobbying For The Whole Pie

The passage of the state protection amendment comes despite congressional offices receiving an 11th-hour email saying Greenwich Biosciences, maker of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved CBD-based medication Epidiolex, wanted lawmakers to defeat it.

Earlier on Thursday, the House approved an amendment from Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA) that directs the Food and Drug Administration to establish a process for regulating CBD in foods and dietary supplements.

Yes/No

Another measure passed in a voice vote, from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), shifts $5 million away from the Drug Enforcement Administration toward an opioid treatment program.

Another Ocasio-Cortez amendment aimed at removing barriers to research on psychedelic drugs such as psilocybin and MDMA (ecstasy) was soundly defeated on the House floor last week.

The House is set to consider another amendment on the spending legislation in the coming days that would allow military veterans to receive medical marijuana recommendations from Department of Veterans Affairs doctors.

Make Laws-Make Money

Another bill maneuvering through the House contains language to protect banks working with state-legal cannabis businesses and removes a longstanding rider that has prevented Washington, D.C. from spending its own local tax dollars to legalize and regulate marijuana sales.

A safe marijuana banking bill was cleared by the Financial Services Committee and is expected to receive a floor vote.

The Veterans’ Affairs Committee held a hearing on four separate pieces of legislation concerning cannabis and military veterans on Thursday. And the Small Business Committee hosted a Wednesday hearing on issues facing cannabis firms, with the panel’s chairwoman announcing she would soon file a bill on the issue.

Summary: H.R.3055 — 116th Congress (2019-2020)

https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/3055

The post House Votes To Block Feds From Enforcing Marijuana Laws appeared first on Komorn Law.

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