Representatives Tom McClintock (R-CA) and Jared Polis (D-CO) have introduced an amendment that, if passed, would disallow the Department of Justice to use funds from Congress to enforce federal laws on activities that are legal under state law with regard to marijuana. Ultimately, this amendment seeks to limit the federal government’s ability to intrude in states that have regulated various aspects of marijuana production and access.
Thirty states (and the District of Columbia) permit the medical use of cannabis, while eight states now regulate the plant’s production and sale to all adults. (Washington, DC imposes no penalties on the personal use, possession, and cultivation of the plant, but does not allow for its retail sale.) More than a dozen additional states permit patients to possess a specific anticonvulsant compound found in the marijuana plant, known as cannabidiol. Additionally, more than half of all states permit farmers to cultivate industrial strains of cannabis.
The passage of this bill is especially important with Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. He believes that lawful medical marijuana patients are causing violent crime and contributing to transnational drug trafficking and has asked Congress to allow the Department of Justice to target and prosecute state-licensed medical cannabis facilities. There is no logical reason for such interference by the federal government.
Congressional passage of the McClintock/Polis amendment would allow these states and the citizens who reside in them, to engage in these permitted activities free from any threat of federal interference or prosecution. It is time for Congress to respect these measures and the rights of voters and state lawmakers who support them.