U.S. Congress Passes Bill Prohibiting Justice Department From Interfering in State Medical Marijuana Laws

The omnibus spending bill passed by the House and Senate includes a provision intended to prevent the DOJ and DEA from arresting or prosecuting patients, caregivers, and businesses that are acting in compliance with state medical marijuana laws.

The Justice Department will continue to be prohibited from interfering in state medical marijuana laws under the federal spending bill passed Thursday in the Senate. The bill has already passed the House, and President Trump has said he will sign it.

The legislation includes a provision that is intended to prevent the department, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, from using funds to arrest or prosecute patients, caregivers, and businesses that are acting in compliance with state medical marijuana laws.

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Justice Department Says it Will End Use of Private Prisons

By Matt Zapotosky, The Washington Post (republished with special permission)

private prisons

The Justice Department plans to end its use of private prisons after officials concluded the facilities are both less safe and less effective at providing correctional services than those run by the government.

Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates announced the decision on Thursday in a memo that instructs officials to either decline to renew the contracts for private prison operators when they expire or “substantially reduce” the contracts’ scope. The goal, Yates wrote, is “reducing — and ultimately ending — our use of privately operated prisons.”

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Federal Court Rules Department of Justice Must Respect State Medical Cannabis Laws

By RetuersDepartment of Justice

The U.S. Department of Justice cannot spend money to prosecute federal marijuana cases if the defendants comply with state guidelines that permit the drug’s sale for medical purposes, a federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday.

The ruling, from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, comes as voters in nine more states will consider allowing the recreational use of marijuana this November.

Twenty-five U.S. states currently allow for medical marijuana. While the sale of the drug is still illegal under federal law, Congress in 2014 passed a budget rule which prohibits the DOJ from using federal funds to interfere in the implementation of state marijuana regulations.

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Federal Court Tells DEA to Leave Dispensaries Alone

In a hugely important decision, a federal court in California has ruled that the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) interpretationcannabisplant of a federal medical cannabis provision which was included in last year’s national spending bill “defies language and logic”. The court stated that the DEA’s recent raids on dispensaries in California “tortures the plain meaning of the statute” and is “at odds with fundamental notions of the rule of law.”

Last year a federal spending bill – which was passed into law – included a Rohrabacher-Farr amendment that prohibits the Justice Department from using federal funds to “prevent such States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

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Federal Amendment to Protect State Hemp Laws Passes U.S. House of Representatives

hempfieldIn addition to cutting the DEA’s budget and protecting state medical cannabis laws, the U.S. House of Representatives has approved an amendment to a federal appropriations bill that would prevent the government from interfering with state-sanctioned laws that allow for the cultivation of industrial hemp. The vote was 282 to 146.

The amendment, which was added to the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, was introduced by Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Thomas Massie (R-KY). A similar provision was passed by Congress last year, though that amendment only applied to hemp being cultivated for research purposes.

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U.S. House Votes to Prevent Government from Interfering with State Medical Cannabis Laws

usWith a 242 to 186 vote, the United States House of Representatives has approved an amendment to a federal spending bill that would prevent the federal government from interfering with state-sanctioned medical cannabis programs.

The amendment, introduced by Representatives Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Sam Farr (D-CA), was added to the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. It explicitly prohibits the Department of Justice, which includes the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), from using any funding to interfere in the implementation of laws legalizing medical cannabis at the state-level.

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U.S. House to Vote on Several Amendments to Roll Back Federal War on Cannabis

houseBy Marijuana Policy Project

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote Tuesday evening or Wednesday on several spending limitations intended to roll back the federal government’s war on marijuana.

Several marijuana-related amendments will be offered to the FY 2016 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies appropriations bill, and at least two of them would limit the manner in which funds can be spent by the Department of Justice, which includes the Drug Enforcement Administration.

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DEA Administrator Chief Michele Leonhart Expected to Resign

By Drug Policy Alliance

Michele Leonhart (Photo: Reuters).
Michele Leonhart (Photo: Reuters).

Resignation Comes as DEA at Center of Series of Scandals in its Effort to Continue Failed War on Drugs

After Decades of Mass Incarceration, Racial Disparities, and Failed Drug Policies, DEA Finally Facing Scrutiny

New DPA Issue Brief Released Today: The Scandal-Ridden DEA: Everything You Need to Know

A senior White House official has said that the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Michele Leonhart, is expected to resign soon. The news comes as no surprise to drug policy reformers who say her opposition to reform made her out of step with the Obama Administration.

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U.S. Justice Department Says It Will Ignore Congress and Prosecute People for Medical Cannabis

By Drug Policy Alliance

Congress Passed One-Year Amendment in December Prohibiting Justice Department from Undermining State Medical Marijuana Laws; Members of both Parties Sought to Stop Prosecutions and Let States Set Their Own Medical Marijuana Policies

Adoj spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) told the Los Angeles Times that a bi-partisan amendment passed by Congress last year prohibiting DOJ from spending any money to undermine state medical marijuana laws doesn’t prevent it from prosecuting people for medical marijuana or seizing their property. The statement comes as the agency continues to target people who are complying with their state medical marijuana law. This insubordination is occurring despite the fact that members of Congress in both parties were clear that their intent with the amendment was to protect medical marijuana patients and providers from federal prosecution and forfeiture.

Read moreU.S. Justice Department Says It Will Ignore Congress and Prosecute People for Medical Cannabis

U.S. Justice Department to Allow Native Americans to Grow and Sell Cannabis on Their Own Lands

The U.S. Justice Department is releasing a memorandumplant today to U.S. attorneys requesting that they allow Native Americans to grow and sell cannabis on their own sovereign lands, even in states that don’t allow it, so long as they follow certain guidelines such as not distributing to minors.

The announcement, which comes just a year after the Justice Department’s decision to stop federal cannabis prosecutions in states that have legalized the substance, opens the doors to a potential new industry for Native Americans across the country. However, tribes wishing to allow sales of cannabis must still have “robust and effective regulatory systems in place”, meaning primarily that cannabis is kept out of the hands of children, and not transported to areas that prohibit it.

Read moreU.S. Justice Department to Allow Native Americans to Grow and Sell Cannabis on Their Own Lands