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U.S.: Congress Passes 3 Amendments To Stop DEA From Undermining State Pot Laws

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Important Victories Build on Tuesday Night’s Votes to End DEA’s Controversial Bulk Data Collection Program, Cut DEA’s Budget

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Legislators on Wednesday passed three amendments to prohibit the DEA and U.S. Department of Justice from undermining state marijuana laws, as part of the U.S. House of Representatives' consideration of the Fiscal Year 2016 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill. A fourth amendment failed.

The House also passed an amendment Tuesday night ending the DEA’s controversial bulk data collection program. It also passed three amendments cutting $23 million from the DEA’s budget, and shifted it to fighting child abuse, processing rape test kits, reducing the deficit, and paying for body cameras on police officers to reduce law enforcement abuses.

“We made incredible progress today through passage of amendments that remove the threat of federal interference from state hemp and medical marijuana laws," said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). "Congress showed more support today than ever before, making this the latest victory in a quiet revolution underway across America to reform and modernize our marijuana laws.

“This follows the narrow defeat of my Veterans Equal Access Amendment to the House MilCon-VA appropriations bill and passage in Senate Appropriations Committee of a similar amendment," Rep. Blumenauer said. "Action today demonstrates the forward momentum on this issue in Congress.

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.: Bill Introduced In Congress Would Allow States To Determine Their Own Marijuana Laws

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Under the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act, producing, distributing, and consuming marijuana in compliance with state marijuana laws would no longer be a violation of federal marijuana laws

U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and five Republican co-sponsors on Tuesday introduced legislation in Congress that would modify the federal Controlled Substances Act so that anyone acting in compliance with a state marijuana law would be immune from federal prosecution.

The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2015 would apply to all marijuana-related activities, medical and non-medical, in the states in which they are authorized.

Republican co-sponsors of the re-introduced 2015 bill include Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI), Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Tom McClintock, and Don Young (R-AK). Democratic co-sponsors include Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Dina Titus (D-NV), Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Mark Pocan (D-WI).

Four states have adopted laws regulating marijuana similarly to alcohol — Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington. Twenty-three states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territory of Guam have adopted laws allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Two out of three Americans (67 percent) think Congress should pass a bill to make states that tightly regulate marijuana a safe haven from federal marijuana laws, according to a report released in January by Third Way, a centrist think tank.

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