The House Committee on Appropriations on Tuesday voted to approve an amendment to prevent the Justice Department (DOJ) from interfering with state-approved adult-use cannabis programs as part of the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies appropriations bill for the Fiscal Year 2023, according to a report from NORML. The amendment had been approved by the full House as part of the annual spending omnibus bill for the last two years but was not included in the final versions.
Since 2014, Congress has included similar protections for medical cannabis programs in annual spending bills and has included the protections in the base appropriations bill since 2018. The amendment effectively prohibits the DOJ from using its resources to interfere with states, territories, tribal governments, or Washington, D.C. to implement laws and regulations governing the production, sale, and use of cannabis by adults or to target individuals acting in compliance with those laws.
In a statement, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) said he “spearheaded the work to develop this language, which protects the state and tribal-legal programs that have been enacted laws to end prohibitionary policies and allow the development of both adult-use and medical marijuana programs.”
“Congress must honor the will of the voters and prevent wasteful Department of Justice prosecution of those complying with their respective state’s or tribe’s cannabis regulations.” — Blumenauer via NORML
In April, Attorney General Merrick Garland said that enforcing federal cannabis possession laws “is not an efficient use” of federal government resources. During his confirmation hearing, Garland said that prosecuting state-approved cannabis operators under federal statutes “does not seem a …useful use of limited resources.”
The amendment still needs to be approved by the full House and Senate to be included in the omnibus measure.
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