U.S. Senate Votes to Include Medical Cannabis Provisions in Funding Plan

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PHOTO: Mark Reinstein / Shutterstock.com

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As federal lawmakers work diligently to add amendments and provisions to ‘”minibus” appropriations legislation’ that will fund various federal agencies for the 2020 fiscal year, the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday voted to extend a provision that would protect states where medical cannabis is legal from federal interference.

The development was first reported on Tom Angell’s Marijuana Moment cannabis news blog.

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The committee approved the provision, which has been renewed every year since 2014, when it was originally added to regulations. It prevents the Justice Department from using funding to interfere with individuals compliant with state cannabis laws.

As Angell pointed out, the question remains if this provision and others would remain in a final appropriations package that might eventually go to President Trump for his signature, or if Congress would push to approve the bill including cannabis language and provisions approved by the Senate, in order to avoid a looming government shutdown if no legislation is signed into law by November 21.

Another cannabis-related provision approved to be added to funding legislation by the appropriations committee included recommending regulations for hemp farming be issued by the United States Department of Agriculture. The USDA issued those recommendations on October 30.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who co-authored legislation decriminalizing hemp cultivation that was included in the 2018 Farm Act, has been a pro-hemp crusader, and was pleased by the USDA announcement of regulation.

“This new policy will help farmers around the country continue pioneering this crop into the 21st century,” McConnell said in a press release. “And I’m proud to say Kentucky is prepared to take the lead.

“For generations, our growers and producers have made the Bluegrass State an agricultural powerhouse, well-positioned at the forefront of hemp’s resurgence. Following the downturn in the tobacco market, it was my Tobacco Buyout legislation that helped farmers transition toward new opportunities,” McConnell added. “And a growing number are looking to this past crop—one grown by Washington, Jefferson, and Clay—as they plan for the future.”

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