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Congress To Vote On Bill Protecting States With Legal Cannabis; Democrats Reject Legalization As Part of 2020 Platform


This week, Congress is expected to vote on an amendment that would prevent interference from the federal government in states where cannabis is legal. Referred to as the Blumenauer-McClintock-Norton Amendment, after Earl Blumenauer (founding member of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus), Tom McClintock, and Eleanor Holmes Norton, the amendment expands the protections already given to states that have medicinal cannabis programs.

Annual spending bills passed since 2014 have included a provision that protects states that have medicinal cannabis from being federally prosecuted. Now, Congress wants to expand that to include recreational adult-use states as well. The amendment lists all states with legalized cannabis or medicinal cannabis: “None of the funds made available by this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to any of the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, or with respect to the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, or the United States Virgin Islands, to prevent any of them from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of marijuana.”

Justin Strekal, Political Director of National Organization For Reforming Marijuana Laws (NORML) has praised the amendment and NORML currently has a call to action encouraging people to push representatives to vote “yes” to the Blumenauer-McClintock-Norton Amendment.

“It is time for Congress to expand these important protections to adult-use legalization states,” Strekal wrote. “Today, nearly one in four Americans reside in a jurisdiction where the adult use of cannabis is legal under state statute.”

Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee voted not to include the legalization of marijuana as part of its official policy plan for the 2020 election. While many delegates were in favor and testified by connecting cannabis legalization to helping end racial inequalities and the war on drugs, the vote was 50-106 (three people abstained).

Instead, the DNC voted to maintain the language drafted last week that encourages decriminalization and state-level legalization. It reads: “Democrats will decriminalize marijuana use and reschedule it through executive action on the federal level. We will support legalization of medical marijuana, and believe states should be able to make their own decisions about recreational use. The Justice Department should not launch federal prosecutions of conduct that is legal at the state level. All past criminal convictions for cannabis use should be automatically expunged.”

Democratic nominee for president Joe Biden has rather infamously opposed cannabis legalization, despite it being a passionate cause of Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders and it being something that can grab the many single issue voters across for the country who are deeply passionate about legalization. As The Outlaw Report noted in its voter’s guide earlier this year, “Rolling Stone deemed Biden one of the most anti-cannabis presidential candidates currently running [and] Leafly also described him as one of the original architects of America’s drug war.” 

President Donald Trump has also remained anti-cannabis, leaving single issue voters—if that single issue is cannabis—with only Green Party nominee Howie Hawkins and Libertarian Party nomineeJo Jorgensen. Both have come out in support of cannabis legalization.

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