US House Votes to Prohibit DOJ From Interfering With State Medical Marijuana or Industrial Hemp Programs

After a long debate that had the US House of Representatives in session until after midnight, the lower chamber of Congress cast a historic 219 to 189 vote to restrict the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration from using taxpayer funds to interfere in state-sanctioned medical marijuana programs in the 20+ states that have enacted them.

This measure was co-sponsored by Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.), Reps. Rohrabacher (R-Calf.), Don Young (R-Alaska), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Paul Broun (R-Ga.), Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Steve Stockman (R-Texas), and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.). You can read the full text of the amendment here.

170 Democrats and 49 Republicans voted in favor of the amendment, 172 Republicans and 17 Democrats voted against it. You can view the full vote breakdown here.

“It would be hard to overstate the importance of tonight’s vote,” said NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri, “Approval of this amendment is a resounding victory for basic compassion and common sense.”

Added NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano, “This vote marks one of the first times since the passage of the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 that a majority of the members of a chamber Congress have acted in a manner that significantly alters federal marijuana policy.”

“The conflicting nature of state and federal marijuana laws has created an untenable situation,” co-sponsor Rep. Blumenauer said just before the House debate. “It’s time we take the federal government out of the equation so medical marijuana business owners operating under state law aren’t living in constant fear of having their doors kicked down in the middle of the night.”

The House also approved amendments that prohibit the DOJ and DEA from using funds to interfere with state sanctioned industrial hemp cultivation.

In February, members of Congress approved language (Section 7606) in the omnibus federal farm bill authorizing states to sponsor hemp research absent federal reclassification of the plant. Since then, five states — Hawaii, Indiana, Nebraska, Tennessee, and Utah — have enacted legislation authorizing state-sponsored hemp cultivation. (Similar legislation is pending in Illinois and South Carolina.) In total, 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

These amendments were made to the 2015 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Bill, which now must be approved by the Senate and then signed by President Obama.

NORML will keep you updated on this evolving situation.

108 thoughts

  1. There is still problems in the language of the bill. For instance it lists states, but doesn’t say anything about states with pending legislation (New York, Florida, etc..) I still view this as a huge victory. Maybe our society is evolving into an actual democracy, and congress is carrying out the wishes of the American people and not just the wealthy.

  2. What effect will this have on urine testing those of us currently using opiate drugs for pain relief? I was told by my pain clinic that even though medical marijuana is legal in my state (AZ) and I’m a legal user, that I cannot have THC, IN MY URINE. They test almost evert month so I have not been able to use for over 45 days.

    Please respond, as the use of both drugs does decrease my opiated use, but marijuana alone will not kill the pain I’m in.

    Thanks in advance

  3. @Anne,
    I couldn’t agree more; the fight for legalization will not end until we all have the right to grow our own. Some may say growing our own is a privilege, but Ive studied cannabis enough to know that human beings have developed a symbiotic relationship with cannabis from an ancient coevolution that provides humans and cannabis with a sustainable coexistence with our environment. Marijuana can help remind us how to grow a garden, get back to our roots and be closer to God.

  4. I have been a LONG TIME ADVOCATE of legalizing marijuana for anyone OVER 21 !!! And it is my hope some day that will be.
    But for now it is just a BIG ASS MESS!!
    My state (CA) says it’s legal & I have been a medical marijuana patient for over 3 yr. now but now I am going to a pain management doctor they say I can’t smoke. And to be honest, the marijuana helps me a LOT MORE then all the pills do. But I’m on SSI and can’t always afford the MED’s that work best for me!!! So I supplement one with the other. I don’t know what to do!! So if any one out there raeds this and has any answersPPLEASE LET ME NOW!!

  5. I read everyone’s posts and replies; and I thank the folks for posting their thoughts;
    Julian wrote:
    Marijuana can help remind us how to grow a garden, get back to our roots and be closer to God. – I agree; Marijuana makes me think about Life; Health; better living and so on..!

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