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House Vote On AOC's Psychedelics Research Amendment Shows Rising Support Despite Defeat July 28, 2021
House Vote On AOC's Psychedelics Research Amendment Shows Rising Support Despite Defeat

Congress will again vote on a proposal to protect all state and tribal marijuana programs from federal interference, a key committee decided on Wednesday.

The House Rules Committee made in order a bipartisan amendment to spending legislation that would provide the protections, which expand upon an existing rider that currently prevents the Justice Department from interfering in the implementation of medical cannabis laws alone. That more limited protection has been annually renewed as part of federal law since 2014.

Meanwhile, the panel also advanced a competing amendment from Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) that would eliminate the current medical marijuana provision—despite the fact that it shields the decades-old program of the sponsor’s own state.

The votes on the conflicting cannabis measures could come on the House floor as soon as Wednesday afternoon.

Given Democratic control of Congress and the increasingly cross-party nature of support for marijuana reform overall, advocates aren’t necessarily concerned about LaMalfa’s amendment passing. But while the GOP congressman has earned a reputation as a staunch reform opponent—going so far as to recently bulldoze illicit cannabis grow sites in California alongside local police—his proposal to end protections for the state’s decades-old medical cannabis program has raised eyebrows.

The main amendment that advocates are focused on is the one from Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Tom McClintock (R-CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Barbara Lee (D-CA) to protect all state and tribal cannabis programs from federal intervention.

The lawmakers circulated a letter to build support for the spending bill amendment last week.

In remarks before the Rules Committee on Tuesday, Blumenauer spoke about the “dramatic increase in public support” for marijuana reform and how voters in “state after state” are enacting legalization policies.

“Let’s continue to protect state-legal activities while we move towards full legalization” at the federal level, he said. “The longer you delay, the worse it is. In the interim, I strongly urge that we enact this amendment to be able to provide some stability.”

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