U.S. House Endorses MJ Program Protection from DOJ

Nancy Moraa

Posted by Nancy Moraa on 08/05/2020 in Medical Marijuana

Federal Government Marijuana Laws

Marijuana programs under legal state laws have experienced interference from the justice department. An amendment that would prevent such interference got passed by the U.S. House for the second year in a row. This was to protect all state-legal recreational and medical cannabis programs. This included territory and tribal marijuana programs as well. 

The Sponsors

The representatives who sponsored the proposal are:

  • Earl Blumenauer (Oregon Democrat)
  • Tom McClintock (California Republican)
  • Eleanor Holmes Norton (Democrat from Washington DC)
  • Barbara Lee (California Democrat). 

This is why it is known as the Blumenauer McClintock Norton Lee amendment. It got its name from its sponsors’ names. The amendment would block the Department of Justice from using its funds to implement cannabis legalization laws. 

The measure passed 254-163 with 31 republicans in favor after approval by a voice vote. But, there are slim chances of the provision to get the Republican-controlled Senate support as well. The provision is part of the fiscal year 2021 Commerce-Justice-Science spending bill. The previous year, the provision got stripped out of the final spending bill. That happened during a conference committee. 

Evidence-Based Research of Cannabis Almost Impossible Without Federal Funding

As far back as 2014, congress has been passing spending bills. These spending bills have included language preventing the Justice Department from spending funds. The funds get used during the crackdowns of state-legal medical cannabis businesses. 

But for the very first time last year, the U.S. House extended those protections. These protections went to recreational marijuana programs. Hence the Blumenauer McClintock-Lee amendment was born. 

Marijuana businesses understand that protections in annual spending bills are usually temporary. So, what these marijuana businesses hope is to see a permanent reform at the federal level. They want to see a change in federal marijuana regulations and all weed laws. 

Image by Terre Di Cannabis from Pixabay

The MORE Act 

A historic vote happened last fall. The U.S. House Judiciary Committee passed a Federal marijuana legalization bill. The measure was the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act. The proposal was for eliminating marijuana from the Federal Controlled Substances Act. Legalization supporters wish the MORE Act to receive full support by the House by the end of this year. 

There have also been other cannabis-related measures. These measures have got attached to the latest FY2021 appropriations legislation. They include medical cannabis protections and separate provisions that allow banks to service legal cannabis businesses. They will service them without having to face penalties from the Treasury Department. The provisions will also protect universities from the loss of funding cannabis studies. 

The funding bill excludes language to continue a long-existing policy. This policy has blocked Washington, D.C., from spending its funds on Cannabis sales legalization. Another roadblock that is making rescheduling of cannabis difficult at the federal level. 

The Road to Federal Rescheduling and Legalization of Medical Cannabis 

Businesses are hoping the federal marijuana regulations will change in their favor. They hope for zero interference from the federal justice department. Most Cannabis businesses want to have the endorsement of federal authorities.  According to certain cannabis business communities, federal interference has happened since legalization.  And the conflict between state and federal laws regarding cannabis can be costly for cannabis corporations. 

The state representatives have their support and endorsements to protect voters’ decision. Still, many marijuana dispensaries and manufacturers are getting worried. Right now, dispensaries in legalized states can face punitive legal action from federal authorities. Including DEA raids of established dispensaries and legal charges. 

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