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  • Writer's pictureTed Ohashi

The House prevents the Justice Department from interfering with state marijuana laws

One of the main reasons I prefer to invest in companies operating in the United States at this time is the political pendulum is swinging in favour of the cannabis operators.

In what Justin Strekal, Political Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) described as “…the most significant vote on marijuana reform policy that the House of Representatives has ever taken….” The U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure in bipartisan vote of 267 to 165 to prevent the Department of Justice (DOJ) from interfering with state marijuana laws. The amendment that also protects Washington, D.C. and U.S. territories is attached to a large-scale appropriations bill that funds part of the U.S. federal government for fiscal 2020. A separate vote covers Indian tribes in the U.S. The measure was sponsored by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Tom McClintock (R-CA).

What makes this action important is it includes adult-use/recreational use cannabis. Medical marijuana has been protected in this fashion since 2014. This action was widely celebrated by legalization advocates and cannabis industry trade groups. A nearly identical measure failed in 2015 by nine votes so this vote represents a major shift in cannabis thinking. Approval of a companion measure in the Senate where the Republicans maintain a majority is still required.

Marijuana remains a Schedule 1 drug under U.S. federal laws so problems such as banking and border crossing remain. According to Marijuana Moment there are 1,138 cannabis-related bills working their way through the states and the federal government. For the anti-cannabis group it is like the ‘death of 1,000 cuts.’ Clearly it would be better to simply remove marijuana from the schedule.

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