June 20, 2019 will go down in the annals of cannabis history because the House of Representatives approved the Blumenauer-McClintock-Norton amendment with a vote of 267-165 and took what Steven Hawkins, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, is calling “the most significant step Congress has ever taken toward ending federal marijuana prohibition.”
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New Amendment Stops Federal Enforcement on Cannabis
This new bipartisan amendment prohibits the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration from spending money to stop States and U.S. territories from “implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of marijuana.” In other words, States are now allowed to create and carry out their own laws surrounding cannabis use without fear of federal interference.
The good news has made people from across the industry rejoice, as cheerful and optimistic quotes are being spread far and wide. Political Director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), Justin Strekal, had this to say about the new amendment: “[This] action by Congress highlights the growing power of the marijuana law reform movement and the increasing awareness by political leaders that the policy of prohibition and criminalization has failed.”
Neal Levine, Chief Executive Office of the Cannabis Trade Federation, stated, “The historic nature of this vote cannot be overstated. For the first time, a chamber of Congress has declared that the federal government should defer to State cannabis laws.”
Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, called the vote “without a doubt the biggest victory for federal cannabis policy reform to date, and a hopeful sign that the harmful policies of marijuana prohibition will soon be a relic of the past.”
Director of National Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, Michael Collins, said, “The end of marijuana prohibition has never been closer… victory is sweet.”
Is National Cannabis Legalization in our Future?
The bipartisan nature of this amendment, coupled with the endless quotes of optimism and rejoice, are strong indicators that full-scale legalization is right on track. Even just a few weeks ago, Sen. Cory Gardner was reported to have been told by President Donald Trump that he’d (the President) would sign legislation to ensure states can decide for themselves whether to legalize marijuana. Now that the amendment has made it through the House, we will see if the President upholds the amendment and the previous statements he has made.
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Yet, as if this news isn’t good enough, there is also a separate bill on the House’s voting roster that would protect banks from being punished for working with State-legal cannabis businesses and removes a longstanding rider that has prevented Washington, D.C. from spending its own local tax dollars to legalize and regulate marijuana sales, according to Forbes.