The U.S. House of Representatives late last night gave approval to a massive national spending bill which includes a provision that would prevent the Justice Department or any other U.S. entity from enforcing federal cannabis laws in states that have legalized the plant for medical purposes.
The spending bill, which was approved with a 219 to 206 vote, also includes a provision to prohibit the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from interfering with state-sanctioned hemp research programs. The measure is now up for a Senate vote, which is expected to occur as soon as today.
The proposal unfortunately includes a provision to prevent the District of Colombia from using any federal or local funding to implement the legalization of cannabis, though his shouldn’t effect the recent passage of Initiative 71 which legalized the possession of up to an ounce of cannabis, because the district won’t need to put any funds forward for the initiative to take effect. This provision might, however, prevent the district from passing legislation which would legalize cannabis retail outlets, though its exact effects remain uncertain.
If approved in the Senate, President Obama says he will quickly sign the spending bill into law.