- July 31, 2020
For the second time in a little over a year, the U.S. House of Representatives has voted to protect state-legal cannabis programs from federal intrusion.
The 254-163 vote Thursday was on an amendment to a Department of Defense appropriations bill, authored by Portland’s Earl Blumenauer and fellow Democrats Barbara Lee of California and Eleanor Holmes Norton of the District of Columbia, and Republican Tom McClintock of California.
The measure would bar the Justice Department from using funds to prevent states “from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of marijuana.”
A similar amendment passed in June 2019 but it wasn’t included by the Senate.
In debate and during the voting Thursday evening, the measure was referred to as “the Blumenauer amendment.” The lawmaker is the founder and chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus.
“The American people are demanding a change to our outdated cannabis laws and I am glad to see my colleagues heeding their calls,” Blumenauer said in a statement afterward. “As we work to ultimately end the senseless prohibition of cannabis and the failed war on drugs, these amendments will help ensure the protection of legal state, territory and tribal cannabis programs.”
The amendment was supported by 222 of 228 Democrats and 31 of 188 Republicans (one independent also voted for it).
Since 2014, Congress has annually adopted amendments that protect state, territory and tribal medical cannabis programs from federal interference. The broader amendment that passed Thursday, extending to adult-use (or “recreational”) programs, also includes territories and tribes, unlike the measure approved last year.
Speaking for the amendment on the floor, Blumenauer contrasted the wave of legalization sweeping the states with a “federal government still trapped by the dead hand of Richard Nixon’s war on drugs.” Here are Blumenauer’s full remarks for the amendment:
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