WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday approved a measure barring the Department of Justice from spending money to interfere with states and territories “implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of marijuana.”
“Today’s vote is the most significant step Congress has ever taken toward ending federal marijuana prohibition,” said executive director for the Marijuana Policy Project Steven Hawkins in a statement. “Congress is recognizing that the federal government must let the states decide on cannabis legalization—and not the other way around.”
Passing by a large margin, 267-165, the bipartisan amendment offered by Representatives Tom McClintock (R-CA) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) was attached to a federal funding appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2020.
In 2015, a similar amendment to protect state marijuana laws from federal interference came up short of passage on the House floor by nine flipped votes.
“This is the most significant vote on marijuana reform policy that the House of Representatives has ever taken,” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal told Forbes.com. “Today’s action by Congress highlights the growing power of the marijuana law reform movement and the increasing awareness by political leaders that the policy of prohibition and criminalization has failed.”
Unlike previous measures which applied only to medical marijuana laws, Thursday’s measure includes protections for states’ laws surrounding recreational use, cultivation, and sales.
Companion legislation is expected soon in the Senate.