House Appropriations Committee Advances Medical Cannabis Protections

House Appropriations Committee Advances Medical Cannabis Protections

The move may tee up a full House floor vote on a measure that directly impacts medical cannabis businesses.

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May 17, 2018
Eric Sandy
Medical Politics

The House Appropriations Committee has passed a provision known as the Joyce amendment, which prevents the U.S. Department of Justice from spending federal funds on prosecuting state-legal medical cannabis businesses. The amendment will move toward the House floor, where it will be read into the record as a part of the full Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) spending bill.

In the past, since 2014, versions of the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment had been added into short-term spending bills and approved amid broader appropriations packages. This latest committee vote attaches the Joyce amendment directly to appropriations legislation that covers U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ purview.

“Today marks a victory for medical marijuana programs and a loss for Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Passage of this amendment through regular order in the appropriations committee represents another big step in the normalization of state level marijuana reform in the Congress of the United States,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal in a public statement.

Indeed, the committee vote marks an important milestone in recent federal legislative history. This move tees up a full House floor vote on a measure that would directly impact medical cannabis businesses -- an opportunity that's been halted by U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas, House Rules Committee chairman) for the past two years, according to Marijuana Moment reporting

“By adding this important provision in committee, members have ensured it will not get blocked like it did last year,” MPP’s director of conservative outreach, Don Murphy, said in a public statement. “We commend Rep. Joyce and his colleagues for taking this step to protect state medical marijuana laws. Hopefully this is a sign that members of both parties are ready to take meaningful action on this subject and move our country toward a more sensible approach to marijuana policy — one that respects states’ rights and reduces wasteful spending while allowing seriously ill people to access medical marijuana if it will improve their quality of life.”

Top photo courtesy of Adobe Stock