In a new and powerful move by federal legislators, congressional members of the House Appropriations Committee took a stance yesterday against federal interference of state legal medical cannabis. The provision that has been stripping funding from the Justice Department since 2014, and Jeff Sessions since he was appointed Attorney General, has narrowly been approved through omnibus bills since then. People like Pete Sessions, the Rules Committee Chairman out of Texas with no relation to Jeff Sessions, have blocked the provision from a House floor vote for years.
However, the daring move by the young legislators that make up the House Appropriations Committee adds the provision, commonly referred to as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment, as a rider to the 2019 fiscal budget for Justice Department. It is highly unlikely that any committee is going to block a House floor vote on the entire Justice Department’s fiscal budget for next year. The amendment was offered by Rep. David Joyce, a republican out of Ohio.
“I’d be remiss if I did not point out that recent polling from just last month shows 92 percent of the American people support the use of medical marijuana ,” Joyce said in debate before the committee adopted his amendment by a voice vote. “In fact, even more voters from every political demographic oppose federal interference in state marijuana laws.”
“Congress still has a long way to go, but it’s remarkable how far we’ve come,” Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), who has played a leading role in pushing cannabis reform measures, said in a statement. “Today’s vote is the latest example of the progress we’ve made. It’s still not enough, especially with Jeff Sessions at the helm of the justice system. Congress must seize this moment and act to expand protections to adult use.”
While young legislators do not typically want to defy the veteran leaders in Congress, in this instance they had a lot of support backing their decision. Not only does 92% of the people in the United States support medical marijuana legalization, but President Trump promised Sen. Cory Gardner out of Colorado that he would prevent Jeff Sessions from pursuing state legalized cannabis in return for Gardner allowing Justice Department nominees to be appointed. This is one more small step toward the national legalization of marijuana.