US Senate votes to continue temporary medical cannabis protections

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The U.S. Senate on Thursday approved a spending bill that includes a provision that would continue to protect state-legal medical marijuana programs from U.S. Department of Justice interference.

The provision, which would be good for a year, was included for the first time in the House fiscal year 2020 Commerce-Justice-Science bill.

In the past, the provision has been tacked on as an amendment either on the House floor or in committee.

The Senate passed the spending bill with the medical marijuana protections by an 84-9 vote.

The measure specifically prohibits the Justice Department from using any funds to prevent states from implementing medical marijuana laws.

It doesn’t protect recreational marijuana programs, however.

In a landmark step earlier this year, the U.S. House voted to protect both state-legal medical and recreational marijuana programs.

But such broad protection isn’t seen as likely to be included in the final congressional spending bill.

Marijuana industry officials want a permanent solution to these temporary protections.

The leading comprehensive federal reform bill is the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act of 2019 introduced by U.S. House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, and Sen. Kamala Harris, a California Democrat and presidential candidate.