Washington, DC: A majority of members of the US House of Representatives voted last week in favor of a budgetary amendment to the 2015 Commerce, Justice, and Appropriations Bill that restricts the Justice Department's ability to take action against those who are compliant with state medical cannabis laws.
The amendment, offered by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), states, "None of the funds made available in this act to the Department of Justice may be used ... to prevent ... states ... from implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana."
Commenting on the vote, NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri said, "For the first time, a majority of federal lawmakers are acknowledging that states that seek to regulate the controlled use of medicinal marijuana ought to be allowed to act in a manner that is free from federal interference."
The language still must be approved by a majority of the US Senate.
House members also voted in favor of a separate amendment prohibiting the federal government from funding efforts to interfere with state-sanctioned industrial hemp programs, including those that allow for the plant's cultivation. Earlier this year, members of Congress approved language (Section 7606) in the omnibus farm bill authorizing states to sponsor hemp research absent federal reclassification of the plant.
More than a dozen states have enacted legislation redefining hemp as an agricultural commodity and allowing for state-sponsored research and/or cultivation of the crop.
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, or Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director, at (202) 483-5500.