A House Appropriations subcommittee approved an amendment on Tuesday afternoon that would prevent the Department of Justice (DOJ) from interfering with legal adult-use marijuana programs as part of the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies appropriations legislation for the Fiscal Year 2023, NORML reported in a press release.
The bipartisan amendment, introduced by Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA) David Joyce (R-OH) along with Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Tom McClintock (R-CA) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) would bar the DOJ from using resources to interfere with the ability of states, territories, tribal governments or the District of Columbia to implement cannabis laws or to target people acting in compliance with those laws.
Morgan Fox, political director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) said the amendment brings peace of mind to individuals, businesses and institutions.
“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,” Fox said.
“Including these protections in the federal budget will go a long way toward giving individuals, businesses, and state governments some peace of mind while signaling to the vast majority of Americans who support legalizing and regulating cannabis that their elected representatives are actually listening to them.”
Congressman Earl Blumenauer added: “Congress must honor the will of the voters and prevent wasteful Department of Justice prosecution of those complying with their respective state’s or tribe’s cannabis regulations. I appreciate the partnership and leadership of my colleagues, Representatives McClintock, Lee, Joyce, and Norton to move this important language forward today.”
Since 2014, members of Congress have passed annual spending bills that have included a provision protecting those in compliance with state medical cannabis programs from undue prosecution by the DOJ. However, such guidance has not been officially renewed under the current Administration and “does not carry the force of law,” NORML stressed. Meanwhile, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland recently said the DOJ was examining cannabis policy and would address the issue “in the days ahead.”