In a huge victory for cannabis law reform, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee voted today to approve an amendment to a federal spending bill offered by Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) that would protect state medical cannabis laws from federal interference by the Department of Justice, which includes the Drug Enforcement Administration. The vote was 20 to 10.
The amendment mirrors one that passed the full House of Representatives last week with a 242 to 186 vote.
Specifically, the Mikulski amendment states that;
None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to any of the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin, or with respect to either the District of Columbia or Guam, to prevent any of them from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.
“What we’re witnessing today are the death throes of the federal government’s war on medical marijuana,” says Michael Collins, Policy Manager at Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of National Affairs. “Last week the House sent a resounding message to the DEA and DOJ – stop the interference and let states legalize medical marijuana. Today, the Senate echoed that message.”
Less than a month ago, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed the bipartisan Daines-Merkley amendment allowing Veterans Administration (VA) doctors to recommend medical cannabis to their patients in states where medical cannabis is legal.
“There is huge momentum in the Senate on the issue of marijuana reform”, says Bill Piper, Director of Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of National Affairs. “We now have the votes in the House and Senate to legalize medical marijuana, and leadership in both chambers should allow bills like the CARERS Act to move forward”.