Breaking: US House passes an amendment to block interference in state cannabis laws
Well, here’s an unexpected little piece of history that just happened today. The United States House of Representative has passed an amendment to a bill called the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) Appropriations Act of 2020 that would keep federal funds from targeting any businesses or individuals that are connected to state marijuana laws. Essentially, this means that this bill could become the law of the land in the United States that if a state makes marijuana legal, the Department of Justice can’t spend federal money to enforce federal law against local regulations. Stephen Hawkins, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a press release sent to the Elegant Stoner that “today’s vote is the most significant step Congress has ever taken toward ending federal marijuana prohibition.” Great!
Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, also tells us that, “this is without a doubt the biggest victory for federal cannabis policy reform to date, and a hopeful sign that the harmful policies of marijuana prohibition will soon be a relic of the past.”
The amendment passed with a vote of 267-165, and was sponsored by Representatives Tom McClintock (R-CA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC). This is a pretty notable result — previous laws did protect medical marijuana from federal interference, but this amendment would protect all cannabis legislation, medical or recreational, from federal enforcement.
Of course, there are some steps to go through before that happens. The Senate is currently preparing similar legislation, though it remains to be seen whether the GOP-controlled chamber will be as friendly (this amendment was first introduced in 2015, and has been beaten in the House before). And of course if both parts of Congress approve it, it then goes to the President for approval, and our current President is, well, less than reliable, let’s say. For the record, over 60% of Americans support federal legalization, and when you ask about a bill like this, keeping federal agencies from interfering with state laws, support goes up to 70%. But lately, our lawmakers and our government aren’t always interested in the will of the people, are they?
Whatever ends up happening with the amendment, this is definitely a historic move, and it shows that there is good progress being made in protecting the growing industry and communities around legal cannabis. Congratulations to all of the advocates and activists who get to celebrate this victory today. The road to justice is a long one, but we’ve gotten past one more milestone on the journey.