The US House of Representatives passed a bill last week that forbids the federal government from enforcing marijuana laws in recreational states. The bill passed 254-163 on a floor vote. Now, the bill moves to the Senate for a vote.
The bill is part of the Congressional budget for the fiscal year 2021 that begins October 1st. A similar bill was passed in the US House last year, but it was dropped in the final version approved by the Senate. With the current Senate makeup, passage of this year’s version will likely meet a similar fate.
Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Tom McClintock (R-CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Barbara Lee (D-CA) sponsored the amendment. Rep Blumenauer, founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, said, "the American people are demanding a change to our outdated cannabis laws and I am glad to see my colleagues heeding their calls." Blumenauer further blasted the War on Drugs and the lack of federal banking for cannabis businesses saying, "the federal government, sadly, is still trapped by the dead hand of Richard Nixon’s war on drugs, declaring cannabis a schedule I controlled substance."
The vote was mostly split along party lines, with six Democrats voting no and 31 Republicans voting yes. 17 members who represent recreational and/or medical states who voted no were all Republicans.
The passage of this bill comes on the heels of other cannabis-related bills in the House. The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act, is an all-encompassing bill that calls to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances list. There are also rumors of a federal legalization bill that will be brought to the House this fall.