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U.S.: 11 Lawmakers Urge Congress To Include Medical Marijuana In Funding Bill

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U.S. Senator Steve Daines, U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and nine members of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday urged Congressional leadership to include a provision in the final funding bill sent to the president that protects veterans’ ability to discuss the use of medical marijuana with VA physicians in states where it is legal.

Although the provision passed both chambers of Congress, it was removed in the conferenced appropriations for Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies.

The Fiscal Year 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act Conference Report failed to include Senators Daines and Jeff Merkley’s (D-OR) and Earl Blumenauer’s (D-OR) amendments that would allow for parity between VA and non-VA facilities in 26 states which have medical marijuana programs. The amendment does not change current laws preventing the possession or dispensing of marijuana on VA property, but simply allows veterans to discuss all options that are legally available in their state with their VA doctor.

U.S.: NCIA Calls On Congress To Restore Commonsense Marijuana Proposals To Bills

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Despite bipartisan, majority support in both the House and Senate, the GOP "leadership" has blocked a fix to the dangerous banking crisis, and also stripped a provision allowing V.A. doctors to discuss medical marijuana with patients.

Recent actions by Congressional leadership have derailed two commonsense, majority-favored marijuana policy reform proposals that had been expected to pass through the appropriations process. The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) on Friday called on members of Congress to work to restore those provisions as the budget negotiation process continues.

"Bipartisan majorities in the House and the Senate have supported the commonsense, compassionate ideas that law-abiding cannabis businesses shouldn't be forced into dangerous all-cash operations, and that veterans who have put themselves in harm's way for our country should be able to learn about how medical marijuana could help them deal with the physical and psychological aftermath of their sacrifices," said NCIA executive director Aaron Smith.

U.S.: House Removes Restrictions Preventing Veterans Access To Medical Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed an amendment to the FY 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill led by Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon to make it easier for qualified veterans to access state-legal medical marijuana.

The amendment had bipartisan support and was co-sponsored by Representatives Joe Heck (R-NV), Sam Farr (D-CA), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Tom Reed (R-NY), Dina Titus (D-NV), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), and Jared Polis (D-CO). It passed by 233-189.

“One of the greatest tragedies of our time is our failure to adequately deal with the needs of our veterans returning home with wounds both visible and unseen," Representative Blumenauer said. "Giving them access to medical marijuana as an alternative treatment option to deal with chronic pain, PTSD, and other conditions is critical at a time when our veterans are dying with a suicide rate 50 percent higher than civilians and opiate overdoses at nearly double the national average.

U.S.: DOJ Will Continue To Be Prohibited From Interfering In State Medical Marijuana Laws

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Justice Department will continue to be prohibited from interfering in state medical marijuana laws under the new federal spending bill unveiled late Tuesday night.

The compromise legislation includes a provision that is intended to prevent the department, including the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), from using funds to arrest or prosecute patients, caregivers, and businesses that are acting in compliance with state medical marijuana laws. It stems from an amendment sponsored by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Sam Farr (D-CA) that was first approved in the House of Representatives in May 2014 and included in the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015 signed by President Obama last December.

“The renewal of the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment suggests most members of Congress are ready to end the federal government’s war on medical marijuana,” said Robert Capecchi, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “There’s a growing sentiment that the Justice Department should not be using taxpayer dollars to arrest and prosecute people who are following their states’ medical marijuana laws.”

U.S.: House Votes To Protect State Medical Marijuana Laws From Federal Interference

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The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a measure 242-186 that is intended to prevent the federal government from interfering in state medical marijuana laws.

The amendment, offered by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Sam Farr (D-CA) to the House version of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, prohibits the Justice Department, including the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), from using funds to interfere in the implementation of laws that allow the cultivation, distribution, and use of marijuana for medical purposes.

The amendment has been offered in the House eight times since 2003, and it passed for the first time last year by a vote of 219-189. It was codified in the so-called “CRomnibus” funding bill in December, and it is expected to be included in the final spending law again this year.

The House is now expected to consider a broader measure that would not be limited to medical marijuana. The amendment, offered by Reps. Tom McClintock (R-CA) and Jared Polis (D-CO), would prohibit the Justice Department from using funds to interfere in the implementation of state laws regulating marijuana for adult use, in addition to medical purposes.

U.S.: Congress Voting On Amendments To Rein In Troubled DEA

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Amendments Would Prohibit DEA from Undermining State Marijuana Laws; Shut Down DEA’s Controversial Bulk Collection Surveillance Programs; Cut Agency’s Budget

Amendments Come in Wake of Recent Forced Resignation of Agency’s Head, Michele Leonhart

As the U.S. House of Representatives considers the Fiscal Year 2016 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill today and tomorrow, legislators could vote on at least seven amendments designed to reduce the power of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and cut its budget.

The DEA has existed for more than 40 years, but little attention has been given to the role the agency has played in fueling mass incarceration, racial disparities and other problems exacerbated by the Drug War. Congress has rarely scrutinized the agency, its actions or its budget, instead deferring to DEA administrators on how best to deal with drug-related issues.

That all has changed recently after a series of scandals that sparked several hearings in the House and Senate and forced the resignation of the DEA’s beleaguered head, Administrator Michele Leonhart.

“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 (DPA). “The more the DEA blocks sensible reforms the more they will see their agency’s power and budget come under deeper scrutiny.”

U.S.: Patients Applaud Congressional Restriction On Federal Medical Marijuana Enforcement

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Historic measure in Omnibus Budget Bill is similar to House amendment passed earlier this year aimed at ending DOJ/DEA interference

The House and Senate Appropriations leadership has hammered out a budget bill that includes an historic amendment to curb federal Department of Justice (DOJ) enforcement in medical marijuana states. The measure, which was originally passed by the House in May with an unprecedented 219-189 vote, aims to prohibit the DOJ from spending taxpayer money to undermine state medical marijuana laws.

"This is great news for medical marijuana patients all across the country," said Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA), one of the co-authors of the House measure. "This amendment protects patients while the federal government catches up with the views of the American people.

"Patients will have access to the care legal in their state without fear of federal prosecution," Rep. Farr said. "And our federal dollars will be spent more wisely on fighting actual crimes and not wasted going after patients."

"We applaud this Congress for doing the right thing by protecting the rights of patients, and ending a years-long attack on the medical marijuana community," said Mike Liszewski, government affairs director with Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a medical marijuana advocacy organization that has been championing the measure for years. "By approving this measure, Congress is siding with the vast majority of Americans who are calling for a change in how we enforce our federal marijuana laws."

U.S.: Senate To Vote On House-Approved Amendment To Protect Medical Marijuana States

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The Senate is expected to vote — possibly as soon as Thursday night or Friday — on a measure that is intended to shield medical marijuana patients and providers from enforcement of federal laws in states where medical marijuana is legal.

The amendment to S. 2347, the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, to be offered by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), is intended to prohibit the Department of Justice, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, from spending funds to raid and arrest state-licensed medical marijuana patients and providers. It will be the first time the amendment has been offered in the Senate.

The House medical marijuana amendment was offered by six Republicans and six Democrats: Reps. Rohrabacher (R-CA), Farr (D-CA), Young (R-AK), Blumenauer (D-OR), McClintock (R-CA), Cohen (D-TN), Broun (R-GA), Polis (D-CO), Stockman (R-TX), Lee (D-CA), Amash (R-MI) and Titus (D-NV). 170 Democrats and 49 Republicans voted for the amendment. It was approved on May 30 by a vote of 219-189.

“Poll after poll shows 70 to 80 percent of Americans support medical marijuana," said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Even among conservatives, most oppose enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states where marijuana is legal for some purpose.

U.S.: Congress To Vote On Measure To Protect State-Legal Medical Marijuana

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Vote on Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s amendment to Justice Department funding bill is expected TONIGHT or Thursday

Congress is expected to vote on a measure Wednesday night or Thursday that is intended to protect medical marijuana patients and providers in states where medical marijuana is legal.

The amendment to H.R. 4660, the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, offered by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), would prohibit the Department of Justice, including the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), from spending funds to arrest state-licensed medical marijuana patients and providers.

It will be the seventh time the amendment has been offered since 2003.

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) has been lobbying in support of the measure since its initial introduction.

Photo: Weedist

U.S.: Republicans Assail Obama Administration's Tolerance of Marijuana Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Republicans on a House Appropriations subcommittee on Tuesday assailed the Obama Administration's tolerance of marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington, but Treasury Secretary Jack Lew defended the decision to let banks provide services to legal cannabis businesses.

Secretary Lew said the Department of the Treasury's financial crimes division issued the guidance to banks in February to lend more clarity to the emerging licensed, legal marijuana trade in Colorado and Washington state, reports David Lawder at Reuters.

But Rep. Harold Rogers, the Kentucky Republican who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, assailed Lew, claiming the move was a "rubber stamp" for marijuana dealing, which is still illegal in most of the United States.

Rep. Rogers hysterically claimed that it would "encourage illegal drug gangs" to try and exploit the U.S. banking system, even asking "What about cocaine dealers? Shouldn't we give them the same break?"

"If they aren't licensed or regulated by the state, how are they different from a drug dealer on the street corner?" Rep. Rogers asked, displaying a spectacular, nay majestic cluelessness, since the topic of discussion was licensed, regulated marijuana businesses in states which have legalized and regulate cannabis.

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