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Congressional Committee Saves Medical Marijuana from Jeff Sessions

The House Appropriations Committee passed a provision to continue shielding medical marijuana patients and providers.

House Appropriations Committee Voted to Add the Provision as a Rider

The House Appropriations Committee passed a provision to continue shielding medical marijuana patients and providers who comply with state laws, reported Forbes, and prohibits the Department of Justice from spending any federal funds on prosecuting legal MMJ 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.

“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 Justin Strekal, Political Director of NORML.

Since 2014, versions of the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, a key medical marijuana industry protection, were added into short-term spending bills and approved amid broader appropriations packages.

But on Thursday, in a surprising bipartisan move, the Committee voted to add the provision as a rider to funding for Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department for fiscal year 2019.

Rep. David Joyce, a Republican from Ohio, offered the amendment.

"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," said Joyce in debate before the committee adopted his amendment. "In fact, even more voters from every political demographic oppose federal interference in state marijuana laws.”

This committee vote marks an important milestone in recent federal legislative history, as it sets up a situation for a full House floor vote on a measure that would directly impact MMJ businesses.

“These protections for state MMJ regulations laws and the people and businesses who rely on them are on pace to continue through 2019 as well,” pointed out Tom Angell in Forbes.

Forbes quoted Michael Liszewski, a policy advisory at the Drug Policy Alliance. “The House Appropriations Committee stands with the 90 percent of Americans, including supermajorities of all Republicans and Democrats alike, who think Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice have no business disrupting state medical marijuana programs.”

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