Federal Measures To Protect Cannabis Users In Legal States Head To House Floor

Measures that would keep the Justice Department from interfering in legal state cannabis programs are part of a budget bill now headed to the full House floor.

The U.S. House Rules Committee on Tuesday approved a series of amendments to one of the spending bills that funds the government, including one that prohibits the DOJ from enforcing federal marijuana laws to prosecute people for using cannabis legally under their state law. The full spending bill, including the amendments, also won committee approval and is heading to the House floor next. 

The committee also added to the spending measure a provision that allows doctors to recommend medical marijuana to veterans in the VA system — and to prevent the DOJ from overriding marijuana laws on tribal lands.

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One-Year Authorization

If the measure eventually gains full Congressional approval, the amendments would still only shield the states from federal marijuana enforcement for a year: spending bills are reauthorized annually.

The proposed budget bill also included a provision to prevent the DOJ from spending any money to prevent states from enacting medical marijuana laws.

On To House Floor

The spending bill could get a full House vote later this week, but the measure would still need approval in the Senate, which hasn’t taken up its version of the appropriations legislation.

The House Rules Committee used to be a place where pro-cannabis amendments died under the previous Republican leadership. But since the 2018 election, new chairman James McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat, has pledged to allow marijuana legislation to move forward.

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