As of Thursday, May 17th, a congressional panel put in votes as to whether or not they would upkeep the protection for medical marijuana patients who comply with their individual state laws. The measure essentially allows for states to have control over their own cannabis industries, but it has been challenged for quite some time now. This vote helps to reaffirm the interest in legal marijuana for public use throughout the U.S.
The law is in no way new to the government and has been around for several years now, but recent efforts saw the provision almost disintegrated with the new presidency and Attorney General. Many of those in the Republican Party has been working to prevent voting on amendments to cannabis law, but this move is the polar opposite. In a bipartisan move, the House Appropriations Committee decided to put this new ballot measure into the larger heading of legislation funding for Attorney General Jeff Session’s Department for Fiscal Year 2019.
The amendment was put up for a vote by Representative David Joyce of Ohio. She stated earlier in the week that “I’d be remiss if I did not point out that recent polling from just last month shows 92 percent of the American people support the use of medical marijuana. In fact, even more, voters from every political demographic oppose federal interference in state marijuana laws.”
The vote has had a semi-troubling past with some of the harder leaning Republicans such as Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX), who has spent a large amount of his time working to block these measures from going any further. On Wednesday of this week, Pete Sessions and his panel worked to prevent three different measures from passing through the floor. According to one report, those who support cannabis have not been able to get a vote for medical marijuana in front of the entire chamber since 2015.
The measure itself and most measures regarding cannabis have had to be passed under the umbrellas of other larger bills or short-term resolutions. This has meant that the pace that marijuana legislation should be happening, is not happening to the full extent. The efforts to block these new measures have also resulted in the budget being frozen for new opportunities for the last several years. With so much of the public in support of medicinal cannabis and the state’s rights to choose, it seems odd that the elected officials supposedly working for the people would do the opposite.
This Thursday was quite instrumental in furthering the fight as supporters of cannabis inserted medical marijuana language into the funding bill, thereby circumventing any effort from Pete Sessions to block it. This move has not been done prior to this time, because it can create a risky proposition unless fully necessary. Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon stated that “Congress still has a long way to go, but it’s remarkable how far we’ve come. Today’s vote is the latest example of the progress we’ve made. It’s still not enough, especially with Jeff Sessions at the helm of the justice system. Congress must seize this moment and act to expand protections to adult use.” Blumenauer is a very active member of those supporting cannabis legislation and has been one of the prominent figures in the fight over the past several years.
The cannabis industry and legal state in the U.S. is still very new, which means that we undoubtedly have a long way to go. With new bills working to be passed every day, it seems like the fight for fair cannabis legislation may be winning.