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House Members Reauthorize Measure Protecting State Sanctioned Medical Marijuana Programs

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 3, 2015

    A majority of the US House of Representatives voted today to reauthorize legislation limiting the Justice Department’s ability to take criminal action against state-licensed individuals or operations that are acting are in full compliance with the medical marijuana laws of their states.

    House members voted 242 to 186 in favor of the amendment, offered by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Sam Farr (D-CA), Reid Ribble (R-WI), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Joe Heck (R-NV), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Don Young (R-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), Tom McClintock (R-CA), and Dina Titus (D-NV) as an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2016 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill. Sixty-seven Republicans joined 175 Democrats in favor of the provision; 176 Republicans and ten Democrats voted against it.

    A similar amendment was signed into law last December. Because that language was included as an amendment to an annual spending bill, it must be reauthorized by Congress or else it will expire in September.

    Representative Rohrabacher recently introduced similar stand-alone legislation, H.R. 1940: Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2015, after Justice Department officials questioned the extent to which their actions may be curtailed by budgetary amendments.

    House members narrowly failed to pass a separate, broader amendment, offered by Reps. Tom McClintock (R-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Don Young (R-AK), Barbara Lee (D-CA), and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) that sought to halt the Justice Department from interfering in states that have legalized the plant’s production and retail sale for adults. That measure failed by a vote of 206 to 222. (See how your US Representative voted here.)

    House members also voted in favor of provisions to protect state sponsored hemp research programs and to restrict DEA funding for cannabis eradication efforts.

    The Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill will now go before members of the US Senate for further debate.

    16 Responses to “House Members Reauthorize Measure Protecting State Sanctioned Medical Marijuana Programs”

    1. TheOracle says:

      What is the sequence of events that need to occur? Legal cannabis banking is the medical marijuana states the next step? Because Congress won’t keep the DOJ from staying out of adult recreational states. Well, if you acknowledge one then you have to legalize the other, legalize the banking for medical purposes. A law that says basically the feds aren’t going to spend any federal money going after banks that do business with medical marijuana entities, and that the IRS dare not spend any federal money on going after cannabis businesses. This decision needs to be delegated from the federal government to the states, and shift that money that was being used to enforce prohibition to other areas where it’s needed. I don’t know how you sanely use it to give tax breaks to businesses that don’t need it or to rich people who won’t invest it in cannabusinesses. If there are any tax breaks from the peace dividend from the war on marijuana they must definitely go to cannabusinesses. You can make it so that the breaks are calculated to create a greater amount of revenue than the cost of the deduction(s) as the cannabis private sector above ground grows and displaces the illegal cannabis stream. That way the cannabis community can get the money back that they are having to pay to the IRS for not being able to file electronically and not getting tax deductions afforded to other businesses.

    2. Scott Howes says:

      We The People need to ask when talking to people running for office we need to ask them about Industrial Hemp and Medical Marijuana and Marijuana we can Rock the Vote

    3. TheOracle says:

      Shame about Susan McKay, or anyone for that matter who is growing cannabis having to quit their job or get fired when they’re not selling it to minors or intoxicated from it on the job. Firing or resignation, people don’t lose their jobs over home brewing when they’re not selling it to minors and not intoxicated at work, and so they shouldn’t lose their jobs for cannabis either. That’s just wrong. They didn’t give her the option of getting licensed and stuff as in Colorado or some other legal state. I simply do not see any reason for the government to ruin someone’s life like they ruined this woman’s. The logic of prohibition does not work that way for me. That cannabis prohibition is still ruining people’s lives rather than helping people as medicine or recreational replacement for booze is beyond sad. So the prohibitionists get to keep ruining people just because they can, for no logical reason other than they can.

      Beyond sad.

    4. TheOracle says:

      The sooner you get cannabis banking for medical states legalized, the sooner you can set up the system, and the sooner the recreational states can stop getting hosed. IRS has got to call off its 280E enforcement for medical cannabusinesses and the financial institutions. There need to be some changes, specifically the department that handles that de-staffed. Move them to doing some other task. If there isn’t a department within the IRS that exclusively handles then DO NOT make one. How about a memorandum or congressional legislation that prevents the IRS from making cannabusinesses pay any more than mainstream businesses. Those freakin’ international treaties don’t mandate the feds have to make you pay more. Politicians will have to show me the part of the treaty where it says they have to make you pay more money in taxes for medicine.

    5. Julian says:

      Today is a great day for Democracy. God Bless America!
      Even Sen. Steve Cohen’s (D-TN) amendment to transfer money from the DEA to rape kit backlogs is kicking in! Now THAT’s putting Justice back into the Justice Department!

    6. Julian says:

      Damn, did Paul just say,

      “176 Republicans and ten Democrats voted against it.” ?!!

      Well that certainly sets the stage for elections next year, doesn’t it?

      Regardless, it took bipartisan support to pass this deal. It’s rather fitting that it took marijuana legalization to get our Congress to cooperate and get something good passed.

    7. half a loaf says:

      Unfortunately, the failure of the McClintock/Polis amendment will be seen by DoJ as a green light for continued prosecutions, and undercut the argument that Rohrabacher/Farr amendment was intended to stop such acts.

    8. Galileo Galilei says:

      “Sixty-seven Republicans joined 175 Democrats in favor of the provision; 176 Republicans and ten Democrats voted against it.”

      Score:
      Y N
      Dems 175 10
      GOP 67 176
      Total 242 186

      House members also VOTED IN FAVOR of provisions to protect state sponsored hemp research programs and to restrict DEA funding for cannabis eradication efforts.

      The amendment to pass this federal restraint for states that have legalized failed by 206 to 222. That’s damn close for the Congress of the USA.

    9. Just An Observer says:

      Since the vast majority of Republicans are pro 2nd Amendment and anti-MJ, I say we expose their hypocrisy by taking away their 2nd Amendment rights with laws and regulations just as they have taken away our 9th and 10th Amendment rights for decades as well as the “pursuit of happiness” mentioned in the Bill Of Rights. Let them scream about lost freedom until they get smart enough to realize freedom is not free until everyone is free to practice their freedom and find their own individual pursuit of happiness without violating anyone else’s life, liberty or pursuit of happiness.

      Then and only then let them have their 2nd Amendment rights to the fullest extent possible. Grab the GOP prohibitionists by the balls just like they have grabbed us by ours and see if they can grasp the concept of freedom.

      Prohibition does not work for guns or good weed!

    10. Evening Bud says:

      @ Just An Observer,

      Here here!

      It would be sweet irony for the supporters of the 2nd Amendment to experience anything close to what supporters of the 9th and 10th Amendments have.

      Somehow, I feel less threatened passing a guy on the sidewalk toking a joint than I do a guy packing an M-16.

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