House panel votes to keep blocking DOJ from state medical marijuana law meddling

Medical marijuana (Credit: MGN.).

WASHINGTON (CIRCA) – America’s largest marijuana policy organization cheered a House panel’s vote to protect state medical marijuana laws from the Justice Department Thursday.

The Marijuana Policy Project in a statement praised the House Appropriation Committee’s voice vote in favor of blocking the Department of Justice from interfering with such laws.

“This is just the latest sign that support for marijuana policy reform is growing in Congress, and we’re seeing that support on both sides of the aisle,” said Don Murphy, the group’s conservative outreach director.

“Republicans are joining with Democrats to protect compassionate state medical marijuana programs from federal interference,” he continued.

“Hopefully this is a sign that members of both parties are ready to take meaningful action on this subject and move our country toward a more sensible approach to marijuana policy – one that respects states’ rights and reduces wasteful spending while allowing seriously ill people to access medical marijuana if it will improve their quality of life.”

The vote will add Joyce’s amendment to the base FY2019 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations bill.

The amendment prohibits the DOJ from using funds to interfere in the implementation of state laws allowing the cultivation, distribution and use of marijuana for medical purposes.

The provision has been in effect since 2014, but Thursday’s vote marks the first time it has gotten added to the base CJS Appropriations bill in committee.

The bill will next be considered by the full House, which has previously examined it in past years as a floor amendment instead.

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) blocked an earlier version of the amendment from receiving a floor vote last year.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a vocal critic of marijuana, and last January he ended a policy discouraging federal prosecutors from bringing certain charges related to the drug.

The so-called Cole memo addressed charges in states that had voted to legalize marijuana, and it helped the cannabis industry in such places proceed uninterrupted.

Eight states and Washington, D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana, and dozens have approved medical cannabis.

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