House Spending Package Preserves Protection for State Marijuana Programs - Do You Agree?
Do you agree with preventing the use of DOJ funds to interfere with state marijuana programs?
by Causes | 8.3.20
What’s the story?
- Before the House of Representatives completed its consideration of the $1.3 trillion “minibus” spending package last week, it adopted an amendment that would prohibit the Dept. of Justice from using law enforcement grants to interfere with medical and/or recreational marijuana programs administered by states, tribes, and territories.
- The inclusion of the amendment in the funding package (which ultimately passed on a party-line 217-197 vote on Friday) comes as the debate over marijuana policy emerges as part of coronavirus relief negotiations.
What’s the amendment?
- Introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), the amendment would prohibit the use of federal law enforcement grant funding from being used to interfere with the marijuana programs of states that have legalized the substance for medical or recreational use.
- A similar amendment was adopted for the spending package that is funding the federal government’s operations in the current fiscal year, so if Blumenauer’s amendment is enacted it would continue that policy for FY2021.
- The amendment was adopted on a 254-163 vote that involved a degree of bipartisanship ― 222 Democrats were joined by 31 Republicans and the House’s lone Libertarian, Rep. Justin Amash (L-MI), in supporting the amendment while 157 Republicans & six Democrats were opposed.
What else is Congress doing about marijuana?
- In September 2019, the House passed the SAFE Banking Act on a bipartisan 321-103 vote. The bill would allow marijuana-related businesses (in states where their industry is legal) to access the banking system, as federal law currently considers marijuana-related banking to be money laundering.
- The SAFE Banking Act was later included in House Democrats’ HEROES Act, a $3 trillion coronavirus relief package that passed the House on a party-line vote but has languished in the Senate amid ongoing bipartisan negotiations about coronavirus relief.
- Also in the HEROES Act is a requirement that federal agencies report to Congress about barriers to marketplace entry for potential & existing minority-owned legitimate marijuana businesses.
- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who successfully fought for the inclusion of language in the 2018 Farm Bill easing federal restrictions on industrial hemp farming, said that marijuana studies should be excluded from the coronavirus relief package as non-germane:
“When we get to the end of the process I would hope all non-COVID measures are out -- no matter what bills they were in at the start.”
- When asked about McConnell’s comments at a Friday press conference, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) defended the inclusion of marijuana provisions in Democrats’ coronavirus relief package, saying she didn’t agree that “cannabis is not related to this” and that cannabis “is a therapy that has proven successful”.
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: iStock.com / gradyreese)
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