Washington, DC: A majority of the US House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to reauthorize legislation limiting the Justice Department's ability to take criminal action against state-licensed operations that are acting in full compliance with the medical marijuana laws of their states.
House members voted 242 to 186 in favor of the amendment, offered by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Sam Farr (D-CA), Reid Ribble (R-WI), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Joe Heck (R-NV), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Don Young (R-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), Tom McClintock (R-CA), and Dina Titus (D-NV) as an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2016 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill.
Sixty-seven Republicans joined 175 Democrats in favor of the provision; 176 Republicans and ten Democrats voted against it.
A similar amendment was signed into law last December. Because that language was included as an amendment to an annual spending bill, Congress must reauthorize it or else it will expire in September.
Representative Rohrabacher recently introduced similar stand-alone legislation, H.R. 1940: Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2015, after Justice Department officials questioned the extent to which their actions may be curtailed by budgetary amendments.
House members narrowly failed to pass a separate, broader amendment, offered by Reps. Tom McClintock (R-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Don Young (R-AK), Barbara Lee (D-CA), and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) that sought to halt the Justice Department from interfering in states that have legalized the plant's production and retail sale for adults. That measure failed by a vote of 206 to 222. The vote marked the first time that members of Congress had ever decided upon a measure specific to legalization and regulation of marijuana for adult use.
House members on Wednesday also voted in favor of provisions to protect state sponsored hemp research programs and to restrict DEA funding for cannabis eradication efforts.
The Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill will now go before members of the US Senate for further debate.
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500 or Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: firstname.lastname@example.org.