As of 2020, cannabis is a federally illegal drug remaining classified by the Controlled Substance Act alongside heroin and LSD as a Schedule I controlled substance. Thus, despite some form of legalization existing in 47 states across the U.S., the federal government continues to hold power over state cannabis laws.
The Blumenauer-McClintock-Norton-Lee Amendment
On Thursday, however, The House of Representatives voted in favor of an amendment to protect all state, territory and tribal cannabis programs from federal interference.
While cannabis will remain illegal on a federal level, the measure, named the Blumenauer-McClintock-Norton-Lee amendment, will prevent the Department of Justice from using funds to prevent cannabis legalization on a state-to-state basis.
According to NORML, the bipartisan proposal’s final vote total was 254 to 163, with 97% of the Democratic caucus (222 of 228) and 16% of the Republican caucus (31 of 188) in favor.
Who’s Behind the Measure?
Sponsored by Representatives Earl Blumenauer, D-OR, Tom McClintock, R-CA, Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-DC and Barbara Lee, D-CA, the proposal improves on the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment of 2014 which protects only state medical cannabis laws.
“The American people are demanding a change to our outdated cannabis laws and I am glad to see my colleagues heeding their calls, ” Rep. Earl Blumenauer said in the debate. “As we work to ultimately end the senseless prohibition of cannabis and the failed War on Drugs, these amendments will help ensure the protection of legal state, territory and tribal cannabis programs.”
A Step in the Right Direction
This action is a huge step forward in the movement towards cannabis normalization.
Rep. Blumenauer also noted, however, that as legalization continues to spread around the country, it’s time that the federal government breaks the chains brought on by Nixon’s War on Drugs.
“Until that day of reckoning comes, we must pass this amendment to assure [that] the federal government does not interfere with state-legal cannabis activities, and that we extend those same protections to tribal interests.”
Watch the house debate the amendment below.
Written by Rita Thompson