Congressional measure offered to shield all state-legal cannabis programs

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An amendment that would protect all state-legal cannabis programs from interference by the U.S. Justice Department was submitted for the fiscal year 2020 Commerce-Justice Science spending bill.

The federal funding bill and amendments are scheduled for consideration Tuesday by the U.S. House Rules Committee.

The spending bill already included a provision that would prohibit the Justice Department from using any funds to interfere with state-legal medical marijuana programs.

The House Appropriations Committee advanced that version by a 30-22 vote in late May.

The amendment to protect all state lawful cannabis businesses was put forth by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat, and Tom McClintock, a California Republican.

Blumenauer submitted several other cannabis-related amendments, including one that would prevent the Justice Department from interfering with Veterans Affairs doctors who recommend medical cannabis to patients in states with MMJ programs.

For his part, U.S. Attorney General William Barr said in his Senate confirmation hearings in January that he would adopt a hands-off approach toward state-legal cannabis programs.

Spending bill provisions offer protections for only a year.

Industry officials are lobbying for more lasting protections for state-legal cannabis programs, such as through the STATES Act.