BREAKING: McClintock-Polis Amendment Seeks to Remove the Term "Medical" From Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment To Include RMJ

Jan 13, 2018

US Attorney General, Jeff Sessions’ move on Jan. 4, rescinding Obama-era guidance on marijuana enforcement outlined in the Cole Memo has forced lawmakers from MJ states to conduct emergency meetings to protect their states’ interests.

In response to Sessions’ action, 69 U.S. representatives have proposed a spending bill amendment which would ensure protections for states that have legalized marijuana. The letter asks for the inclusion of a provision known as the McClintock-Polis Amendment, which would simply remove the word “medical” from the current Rohrabacher-Blumenauer language.

A similar action was taken in April, requesting inclusion of the amendment in the appropriations bill. At that time, the letter had a total of 16 signatures. The latest letter, sent Friday, is signed by 69 members of the House.

The amendment requires that “any forthcoming appropriations or funding bill” include the following language:

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, 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, to prevent any of them from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of marijuana on non-Federal lands within their respective jurisdictions.

The representatives said the intention of the proposed provision is to force the Federal government to respect the constitutional authority of states to regulate commerce within their own borders.

Specifically, we are concerned with several attempts to apply federal law upon commerce related to cannabis that is conducted entirely within the boundaries of states that have legalized such commerce. While the federal government is legitimately empowered to regulate interstate commerce, the measures adopted by states such as California, Oregon and Colorado are aimed solely at intrastate commerce and as such should not be interfered with.”

Indeed, this is exactly the mechanism (former U.S. Supreme Court Justice) Louis Brandeis referred to when he wrote of the states as laboratories for innovation and experimentation.

Polis said on Friday that he would continue to push for passage of his Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, which seeks to end federal prohibition of cannabis. However, “that could take years,” he said. “This is urgent — we must get this amendment passed in any vehicle that funds the government.”

Since 2014, spending bills have included a provision protecting those who engage in the state-sanctioned use and dispensing of medical cannabis from undue prosecution by the Department of Justice. The amendment, known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment, prohibits federal funds from being used to prosecute marijuana business operators in states which have authorized the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.

According to a statement made by The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, (NORML), “it is time to expand similar protections to states that have also legalized the use and sale of marijuana to all adults now that one in five Americans resides in a jurisdiction where the adult use of cannabis is legal under state statute.”

Also, according to NORML, in the day the letter was going making the rounds on the hill for signatures, “NORML members and supporters drove in nearly 5,000 messages to Congress and countless phone calls in support of their Representative signing on.”

“For several years, I have introduced a bipartisan amendment with Rep. McClintock, which would prohibit the Dept. of Justice from using federal resources to interfere with legal medical and recreational marijuana activities. Now with Attorney General Sessions’ shortsighted announcement, I am thrilled to welcome nearly 70 members who are asking for the amendment to be attached to the government-funding bill,” said Rep. Polis. “It would be a temporary, but urgent and necessary fix, as I continue to push for passage of my Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, which would finally lift the federal prohibition on marijuana.”

Last year, Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Don Young (R-AK) formed the first-ever Congressional Cannabis Caucus with the intention of developing and promoting sensible cannabis policy reform at the Federal level.

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