House Approves Federal Protections on States with Legal Cannabis

On June 20, The U.S. House of Representatives approved sweeping legislation to prevent the federal government from interfering with state medical and recreational laws. The House voted 267 to 165 to approve the Blumenauer-McClintock Amendment. While we’ve seen federal protections on states with medical cannabis in the past, the new protections are extended to recreational states.

The Blumenauer-McClintock Amendment is a rider bill attached to a large appropriations bill, funding the Fiscal Year 2020. It blocks the Department of Justice from having resources to go after states with legal cannabis businesses.

“This is the most significant vote on marijuana reform policy that the House of Representatives has ever taken,” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal told Forbes. “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.” Congress passed a similar measure in 2014, which blocked the federal government from going after states with legal medical cannabis. The new bill applies to recreational states as well.

In an op-ed for The Hill, Kevin Sabet of Smart Approaches to Marijuana claimed that under the amendment, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration will have no power to prosecute “bad actors” in the industry, but others disagree. “The Department of Justice is still free to investigate cannabis cases under the Blumenauer Amendment, they just can’t prosecute without a state law violation,” Michael Liszewski of the Students for Sensible Drug Policy told Cannabis Now, “Bad actors violating FDA rules can’t hide behind this amendment, it only protects individuals obeying state law.”

The amendment was celebrated across the board from most of the leaders in the cannabis industry. Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, said that the new legislation 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.” It’s a victory for everyone who lobbied for or supported national cannabis reform.


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