House Committee greenlights bill to protect cannabis states from federal interference

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After a false start, legislators now appear ready to keep the DOJ away from legal cannabis states

Yesterday afternoon it was reported that an amendment seeking to prevent the Department of Justice (DOJ) from interfering with legal adult-use marijuana programs was approved by a House Appropriations subcommittee. The measure is part of the FY 2023 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies appropriations legislation.

Representatives Barbara Lee and David Joyce, along with Representatives Earl Blumenauer, Tom McClintock and Eleanor Holmes Norton, are currently behind the bipartisan amendment. The intent of this is to prohibit the federal agency from using resources to get in the way of the ability of states, the District of Columbia, territories, or tribal governments to implement cannabis laws. This also applies to persons acting pursuant to the regime of those laws.

The political director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), Morgan Fox, said that an amendment like this comes to provide a high level of confidence and peace of mind to businesses, institutions, and individuals. He added, “As federal lawmakers steadily work to determine the best way to finally end marijuana prohibition and undo the damage it has caused, the people involved in regulated cannabis programs in the growing number of states that are leading the way on this issue deserve to know whether the federal government will actively get in the way of their continued successes.”

For nearly a decade now, members of Congress have given the green light to legislation that provides protection to those who comply with state medical cannabis programs from improper prosecution by the DOJ. However, NORML emphasized that such guidance has not received any official updates in recent administrations and therefore “does not have the force of law.”