One of the biggest leaps in federal marijuana reform took place last week in D.C. On June 20th, United States House members voted in favor of the Blumenauer-McClintock-Norton amendment, which would further protect laws in states that allow recreational marijuana use from federal interference. This would mean that the Department of Justice could no longer dedicate resources to enforcing federal regulation of state-legal marijuana providers. 267 members voted in favor, and 165 members voted against.
Although the Rohrabacher-Farr and Leahy amendments have protected medical marijuana only states up to this point, the new amendment, if passed through the Senate, would also protect recreational states and the rights of Native American tribes. This form of policy making is pretty significant because it is just one step closer to allowing states to regulate marijuana use without federal oversight. The DOJ can still investigate cannabis cases under this new amendment, but they wouldn’t be able to go after those businesses obeying state laws.
But policymakers still have a long way to go. There are a handful of bills still trying to make their way through the red tape that would give the industry more freedom to operate. One of them is the STATES act, which would give states complete regulatory control over marijuana regulation (the way we currently regulate things like alcohol and tobacco use). Another bill, still stuck in house committees, would legalize banking and financial services for businesses in the cannabis industry.
The amendment still needs to be approved by the Senate, which is a tougher crowd when it comes to marijuana reform. But it is clear that with the growing numbers of states legalizing cannabis use each year, the federal government will have less and less control over regulating cannabis as a controlled substance.