The U.S. Capitol Building in Washington DC.


California Rep. Barbara Lee, a Democrat, has introduced legislation to protect state-approved cannabis programs from federal interference. The measure is titled the Restraining Excessive Federal Enforcement and Regulations of Cannabis Act – or REFER.

“The federal government has no business interfering in states that have decriminalized cannabis. American voters have sent a clear message – it’s time for the government to stop wasting taxpayer money on the failed War on Drugs and take long overdue action to reform cannabis policies. That’s why I’m introducing the REFER Act, which would prohibit federal funding for efforts intended to interfere in state and local cannabis laws. It would also lift long-overdue federal restrictions on banking for cannabis industries.” Congresswoman Lee in a press release

According to the bill text, the measure would prevent federal law enforcement from detaining, prosecuting, sentencing, or initiating civil proceedings against state-licensed cannabis operators and bar the feds from penalizing financial institutions from doing business with the industry.

So far, the legislation carries four co-sponsors from states that allow recreational cannabis use: Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer; Alaska Rep. Don Young; Colorado Rep. Jared Polis; and Nevada Rep. Dina Titus. The bill has been sent to the House Judiciary, Financial Services, and Energy and Commerce committees.

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