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U.S. House Committee Votes to Protect State Medical Marijuana Laws

The U.S. House Appropriations Committee voted this morning to continue blocking the federal government from interfering in state medical marijuana laws.

The committee approved an amendment to the base FY2019 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations bill in a voice vote. The amendment, introduced by Representative David Joyce (R), prohibits the Justice Department (which includes the DEA) from using funds to interfere in the implementation of state laws that allow the cultivation, distribution, and use of marijuana for medical purposes. The bill will now be considered by the full House.

Such a provision has been in effect since 2014, but this is the first time it has been added to the base CJS Appropriations bill in committee. In previous years, the measure, which was known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment (and subsequently the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment), was added to the bill as a floor amendment, but last year Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) blocked it from receiving a floor vote.

“This is just the latest sign that support for marijuana policy reform is growing in Congress, and we’re seeing that support on both sides of the aisle”, says Don Murphy, director of conservative outreach for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Republicans are joining with Democrats to protect compassionate state medical marijuana programs from federal interference. The strong bipartisan support we’re seeing in Congress mirrors public opinion, as polls show an overwhelming majority of both major parties support legal access to medical marijuana.”

Murphy continues; “By adding this important provision in committee, members have ensured it will not get blocked like it did last year. We commend Rep. Joyce and his colleagues for taking this step to protect state medical marijuana laws. Hopefully this is a sign that members of both parties are ready to take meaningful action on this subject and move our country toward a more sensible approach to marijuana policy — one that respects states’ rights and reduces wasteful spending while allowing seriously ill people to access medical marijuana if it will improve their quality of life.”

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Northern Mariana Islands Senate Votes to Legalize Marijuana

The full Senate for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands has given approval to a measure that would legalize marijuana.

The proposed law would allow those 21 and older to legally possess, use and cultivate personal amounts of marijuana. It would establish a regulated and taxes system of marijuana businesses including marijuana retail outlets, which would be authorized to sell marijuana and marijuana products.

The legislation now goes to the House of Representatives. Passage in the House will send the law to Governor Ralph Torres for consideration.

“[T]he absence of marijuana regulations in the Commonwealth allows the existing marijuana black market operators to target persons under 21 years of age with total disregard to the safety, health and wellbeing of the youth in the Commonwealth”, and current laws “prevents the Commonwealth government from imposing licenses, fees and taxes relative to the production and use of marijuana”, states an over 500-page report released by the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Government and Law.

The Northern Mariana Islands are a U.S. territory with a population of around 55,000.

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