In ‘historic vote,’ US House protects state-legal cannabis programs

cannabis stimulus spending

In a landmark move Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives soundly approved by a 267-165 vote a bipartisan amendment that would protect state-legal cannabis programs from interference by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The amendment to the fiscal year 2020 Commerce-Justice-Science spending bill specifically prohibits the Justice Department from using funds to prevent states, Washington DC and U.S. territories from implementing their adult-use and medical marijuana programs.

A similar amendment protecting tribal programs passed by a voice vote on Wednesday, as did an amendment that would protect Veterans Affairs doctors who recommend medical cannabis in states where it is legal.

Thursday’s vote marks the first time a congressional chamber has voted to fully protect state-legal cannabis programs from Justice Department interference.

Neal Levine, CEO of the Cannabis Trade Federation, characterized Congress as making a “historic vote,” in effect declaring “that the federal government should defer to state cannabis laws.”

It’s unclear whether the provision will be supported in the Republican-controlled Senate.

And, even if the provision does make it in the final spending bill approved by Congress, it will be in effect only for one year.

The final version of the House amendment was submitted by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat, Tom McClintock, a Republican from California, and Eleanor Norton, a delegate from Washington DC.

The marijuana industry has been lobbying for more permanent reform, such as through the STATES Act.

Since 2014, spending bill amendments have been passed that protected only state-legal medical cannabis programs. Such an MMJ protection provision also is part of the Commerce-Justice-Science spending bill this year.

Jeff Smith can be reached at [email protected]

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13 comments on “In ‘historic vote,’ US House protects state-legal cannabis programs
  1. mike on

    well duh, about time. getting any pain med help from doctors is almost impossible for regular people suffering. the feds and states have so scared docs that while posting notices all over hospitals that you are entitled to pain mitigation, they just look at you and say they don’t want those meds prescribed on their record so take advil. this house move is wonderful because nobody cares that you are in pain until they are in pain.


      I agree w you 100 suffering in pain fibromyalgia,glaucoma.tired of taking pills that’dont work anymore and have side effects.unlike cannabis thats all natural and takes pain away,and able to function without being’groggy,doped up.because the all mighty buck for what the pharmacutickles lol. To make money and not care if theyre hurting,killing people.ive done my see ive started reading about all the side effects on my meds.think about it and read them for yourselves’congress,and’you legislators.try the oil.or cream for your selves.thank you.

    • Todd on

      True! Hospital personnel will allow you to get sicker if you take things like anti seizure medication. They’ll wait until you have a grand mal seizure and then give Ativan straight to the vein. I have seen this first hand at a “world renowned hospital “! Watch out for your rights, and you do have them if you’re hospitalized and want attention, ask them for your case manager!

  2. SaraC on

    Greenwich Biosciences, which produces… wait for it.. Epidiolex (FDA approved drug) sent letter to Congressional staff urging them to VOTE NO, on this. Ummm, I wonder who’s interest they have in mind.

  3. G. Spencer Myers on

    If a House would send the bill to the Senate Floor with a Welcome Package from a few of the major cannabis companies that included an assortment of bud and gummies (Watermelon seems to be the current favorite but I prefer mango) this bill will pass with a high level of support.

  4. Ziggy on

    This is a great one year band-aid, so, now…let’s REAlly fix it. Let’s pass the STATES Act…in BOTH houses! And make it –PERMANENT!

  5. rigbo on

    This is like when people say to someone that has cancer or suffering from another deadly and painful disease and says, “I feel your pain”!!! No you have no idea until it is your pain..

  6. Bob Reid on

    You should be very concerned about the 165 nay votes in the House. I am. Vote all prohibitionists out of office.

  7. Sam on

    First let’s take marijuana off of the schedule 1 list – make it federally legal so states/counties can decide for themselves and stores can get bank and credit cards and don’t have to run as a cash-only business which makes them prime targets for robbery and less than savory backers.

  8. Serget on

    This decision is long overdue. If only in effect for one year, I guess at least that is some type of movement towards recognizing an industry that is helping some individuals with medical issues. In addition, dispensaries are handcuffed with banking, promoting, taxes etc. Hope more progress follows.

  9. M. P on

    I have recently been able to get my medical card and to ge relief from the pain of glaucoma and ptsd anxiety, debilatating arthritis. I have to travel 50 miles to get my medicine but that is ok. For that last month the border patrol station has been closed so was ok. Now I have no more medicine and I can not go get any as the border station is back open and even though it is legal in the state and the ck station is 20+ miles from the border. They can confiscate my medicine. I’m elderly. living on a fixed income and cannot afford to buy my medicine and then drive toward home and have it taken away. I could try to sneak it through but then I’m a criminal I should of just saved the expense of getting my card and bought off the street. This makes no sense. Laws should not put people in jeopardy from pain illness or legal intanglements. Congress has finally understood. Senate its time to take a step toward the future. This product has been proven to work, the thought process behind seizures of medical marijuana is antiquated and unjust. The DOJ and Border Patrol need to be put back to work protecting are borders not harassing are citizens.

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