44 In Congress Support Effort To Keep DOJ Handcuffed In Medical Cannabis States


A bipartisan collection of nearly four-dozen U.S. House members want the feds to maintain their hands-off enforcement position toward states that have legalized medical marijuana.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican lawmaker from California, has spearheaded spending bill amendments that prevent the Justice Department from meddling in medical marijuana states. On Monday, he announced that he is urging the Commerce, Justice and Science committee chiefs to continue that path.

In a letter co-signed by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon, and 42 other House of Representatives members, Rohrabacher asked the chair and ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies to include the following language in the fiscal year 2018 spending bill:

None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used to enforce federal prohibitions involving the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of marijuana for medical purposes that are permitted by the laws of the state, the District of Columbia, or U.S. territory where the act was committed, or to prevent states, the District of Columbia, or U.S. territories from implementing their own laws that permit the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of marijuana for medical purposes.

The language has been included in House appropriations bills since 2014, with a 219-189 vote, and again in 2015, by a 242-186 vote. The Senate Committee on Appropriations adopted similar language in 2015, by a vote of 22-8, and in 2016, by a vote of 21-8, Rohrabacher wrote.

“We believe that the consistent, bipartisan support for such protections against federal enforcement, combined with the fact that similar language has been in place since December 2014, make a strong case for including similar language in your base FY 2018 appropriations bill,” he wrote.

This year’s amendment, previously referred to as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, will carry the name Rohrabacher-Blumenauer, as co-sponsor Sam Farr, D-California, retired last year.

The proposed Rohrabacher-Blumenaeur amendment does not come free of contention.

Members of Smart Approaches to Marijuana Action, an organization that opposes marijuana legalization, have said they would “cross-reference every House member” who signs the letter with reports documenting campaign contributions from the marijuana industry.

“We intend to investigate the legislators who do the pot industry’s bidding,” Kevin Sabet, SAM Action’s president, told The Cannabist Monday. “The American people should know who is doing the bidding of an industry whose goal is to promote addiction for profit.”

Read the medical marijuana letter signed by 44 members of Congress:

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Final MMJ Letter to CJS Subcommittee (PDF)

Final MMJ Letter to CJS Subcommittee (Text)

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