Congress passes amendments to stop DEA from undermining state marijuana laws

Posted on June 4th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , , .

capitolLegislators on Capitol Hill passed three amendments June 3 to bar the DEA and Department of Justice from undermining state marijuana laws, as part of the US House of Representatives' consideration of the Fiscal Year 2016 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill. "There’s unprecedented support on both sides of the aisle for ending the federal war on marijuana and letting states set their own drug policies based on science, compassion, health, and human rights," said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. "The more the DEA blocks sensible reforms the more they will see their agency's power and budget come under deeper scrutiny."

A bipartisan amendment to protect state medical marijuana laws from federal interference passed 242-186. It was offered by Representatives Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Sam Farr (D-CA), among others The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment passed the House last year with strong bipartisan support, and made it into the final CJS spending bill signed into law by the president. Because it was attached to an annual spending bill it will expire later this year unless Congress renews it.  The House vote is a step towards that renewal.

A second cannabis-related amendment by Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) passed 297-130, to protect state laws that allow the use of CBD oils. A third amendment by Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) passed by 282-146. It would prohibit the DEA from undermining state laws allowing the industrial use of hemp. A similar amendment passed the House last year.

A fourth bipartisan amendment prohibiting the DEA and Justice Department from undermining state marijuana laws failed, 206-222. It was offered by Representatives Tom McClintock (R-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Don Young (R-AK), Barbara Lee (D-CA), and Rohrabacher (R-CA).

Three amendments cutting the DEA’s budget also passed by voice vote. An amendment offered by Rep. Ted Liew (D-CA) shifted $9 million from the DEA's failed Cannabis Reduction and Eradication program to youth programs established by the Violence Against Women Act ($4 million) and Victims of Child Abuse Act ($3 million), and deficit reduction ($2 million). An amendment sponsored by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) shifted $4 million from the DEA to a program to reduce the nation's backlog in processing of rape test kits. And an amendment authored by Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) shifted $9 million from the DEA to body cameras for police officers to reduce police abuse.

The House also adopted an amendment preventing DEA and DoJ from using federal funds to engage in bulk collection of citizens' communications records. It was offered by Jared Polis (D-CO), Morgan Griffith (R-VA), David Schweikert (R-AZ), and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). (DPA, June 3)

Graphic:  DRCNet


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