The U.S. House of Representatives has passed an amendment preventing the Department of Justice from interfering with state marijuana laws, specifically in those states that have legalized recreational use, cultivation and sales.
The measure, introduced by Reps. Earl Blumenauer, Tom McClintock and Eleanor Holmes Norton, was approved by the chamber in a voice vote of 267 to 165, along with a separate bill extending protection to tribal lands where cannabis has been legalized. However, as spending bills are required to be reauthorized each year, the amendment will only protect states’ cannabis programs for one year. “It (cannabis) is supported by two-thirds of the American public, and 90 percent for medical marijuana. It is time that we extend this protection to state-legal activities so they can drive forwards,” expressed Blumenauer.
Rep. Blumenauer also submitted several other cannabis-related amendments for consideration, one of which would prevent the Department of Justice from intervening with Veteran Affairs doctors who prescribe medical cannabis to their patients. The House is set to consider this amendment in the coming days.
These reforms identify a significant improvement in Congress support of more inclusive policies and positively extend the existing 2014 policy, which only protected local medicinal cannabis patients from federal intervention.
“Today’s action by Congress highlights the increasing awareness by political leaders that the policy of prohibition and criminalization has failed,” stated NORML Political Director Justin Strekal, according to Forbes.
While cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, this is exciting news for the cannabis community as the previous U.S. attorney general, Jeff Sessions, was determined to uphold the prohibition of cannabis. This amendment is a huge breakthrough for cannabis, representative of the slow, yet extremely significant, government reform progress.