WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. House of Representatives approved a measure 267-165 on Thursday that is intended to prevent the federal government from interfering with state laws regulating marijuana for all purposes, including adult use.
“Today’s vote is the most significant step Congress has ever taken toward ending federal marijuana prohibition,” said Steven Hawkins, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. “Congress is recognizing that the federal government must let the states decide on cannabis legalization — and not the other way around.”
The bipartisan amendment, offered by Reps. Tom McClintock (R-CA) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) to the House version of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, prohibits the Justice Department, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, from using funds to interfere in the implementation of state laws that allow the use, possession, cultivation, and distribution of marijuana.
The measure is broader than previous amendments, which applied only to medical marijuana laws. Since 2014, Congress has upheld a rule preventing federal interference in states’ medical marijuana programs.
The Senate is expected to take up companion legislation in the coming weeks.
“Poll after poll shows that an overwhelming majority of Americans believe states should be allowed to establish their own marijuana policies, and it appears most members of the House agree,” said Steven Hawkins, executive director for the Marijuana Policy Project, in a statement. “Two in three Americans support legalizing marijuana, and more than 25% of the U.S. population lives in a jurisdiction where marijuana is legal for adults. We must protect these state laws and prevent federal arrests for people operating state-legal marijuana businesses.”
“MPP has worked on this amendment since Rep. McClintock first introduced it in 2015, when it was narrowly defeated in the House (206-222). With more and more states legalizing cannabis, there clearly is no national consensus to warrant a federal ban on cannabis. It is time for Congress to step aside and let states serve as the laboratories of democracy as the Framers intended,” Hawkins added.