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House Votes To Protect State Cannabis Laws

The House voted to approve Part B Amendment #87 Thursday evening, which is a provision to prevent the federal government from using any funds to interfere with state medical or adult-use programs or target individuals and businesses that are in compliance with state cannabis laws. The bipartisan amendment to the Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriations bill was introduced by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Tom McClintock (R-CA), and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC).

“The existing policy of prohibition is an abject failure,” said Rep. Blumenhauer, adding that criminalization disproportionately impacts communities of color and has driven mass protests against police violence. “This selective enforcement of nonsensical policy has posed huge problems for black Americans.”

The amendment passed in a voice vote on Thursday and was then followed by the House of Representatives roll call vote of 254-163. Six Democrats declined to vote in favor while 31 Republicans did vote in favor. The same amendment was passed by the House last year but it did not end up in the final budget bill. Since 2014, Congress has approved has continually approved such language. However, another representative began offering other amendments that would have taken federal money from states that legalized cannabis.

“Today’s House vote aligns with the overwhelming majority of Americans who oppose federal interference with the successful cannabis programs operating throughout the country,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “Now, it’s time for the Senate to do the right thing and ensure this sensible provision makes it into the final budget legislation so that states can continue to forge their own path on marijuana policy without federal intrusion.”

The legislation though needs to be approved by the Senate. Last year, similar language was stripped out, which the President signed. So far the Senate has not begun reviewing appropriation bills for the 2021 fiscal year.

“Passage of this amendment would give state-legal and essential cannabis businesses some temporary peace of mind while Congress works to permanently end federal prohibition and repair the damage it has done to marginalized communities,” continued Smith. “It is clear that there is strong bipartisan support for cannabis policy reform and we will continue working with lawmakers to promote further legislation in this session.”

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