The U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure on Thursday that protects states with legal marijuana from interference from the Department of Justice and federal law enforcement agencies. The amendment to the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill prohibits the Justice Department from spending funds to prevent the states, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia from enacting laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, and cultivation of marijuana.
The bipartisan measure was sponsored by Democrats Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton of Washington, D.C. and Republican Rep. Tom McClintock of California. The House approved the measure on Thursday afternoon by a vote of 267 to 165. With a voice vote on Wednesday, the House passed a similar measure that prevents the Department of Justice from interfering with Native American tribes that implement their own cannabis laws on tribal lands.
In a letter to fellow representatives before Thursday’s vote, McClintock wrote that “the issue at hand is whether the federal government has the constitutional authority to dictate policy to states on an issue which occurs strictly within their own borders.”
“I do not believe the federal government has that authority, but even if it