Phil Roeder

House Votes to Protect State-Legal Cannabis Programs

The House of Representatives has approved a federal spending bill amendment that would block the Department of Justice from interfering in state-legal cannabis programs. The rider must now be approved by the Senate before it can take effect.

Full story after the jump.

The House of Representatives has approved an amendment to a federal spending bill that would prevent the federal government from interfering in legal cannabis markets. The chamber passed the measure – which is sponsored by Democratic Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Eleanor Holmes Norton, and Republican Tom McClintock – 267-165.

Specifically, the rider blocks the Department of Justice from spending funds to prevent states and U.S. territories from “implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of marijuana.”

Michael Collins, Director of National Affairs for Drug Policy Alliance said the vote was an indication that “the end of marijuana prohibition has never been closer.”

“Now is the time for Democrats to pivot to passing legislation that will end prohibition through a racial justice lens, making sure that the communities most impacted by our racist marijuana laws have a stake in the future of legalization. To do anything less would be to repeat an injustice.” – Collins, in a statement

Blumenauer, the lead sponsor of the amendment and co-founder of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, said the amendment is “past time.”

“We have much more work to do,” he said in a statement. “The federal government is out of touch and our cannabis laws are out of date. I’m pleased that the House agrees and we are able to move forward.”

NORML Political Director Justin Strekal called the amendment “the most significant vote on marijuana reform policy the [House] has ever taken.”

“Today’s action by Congress highlights the growing power of the marijuana law reform movement and the increasing awareness by political leaders that the policy of prohibition and criminalization has failed,” he said in a statement.

The measure might face a tougher test in the Republican-controlled Senate, which must still approve the amendment before it can take effect.

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