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House GOP Blocks Recreational Marijuana Protections Vote

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Despite a renewed congressional move to shield medical marijuana patients and businesses following state laws from federal prosecution, a powerful House committee late Wednesday night blocked an amendment to extend the protections to cover broader recreational legalization policies.

The U.S. House Rules Committee voted on party lines to prevent the measure, offered by Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) from advancing to the floor for a vote.

“Ninety-five percent of the country lives in an area that has some kind of legal marijuana,” Polis said in introducing his amendment. “Study after study shows that having a well-regulated marijuana market can decrease underage use, bankrupt drug cartels and criminals, reduce violent crime, increase tax revenues.”

Marijuana Moment supporters on Patreon can view the amendment text and video of Polis presenting it below:

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“You certainly don’t have to support legalization to allow this to go to the floor for an up-or-down vote,” Polis argued.

But the panel voted 8 to 3 to block the measure and two other unrelated Polis measures from advancing.

Despite the setback on full legalization, congressional leaders did insert into the overall bill to fund the federal government for the rest of Fiscal Year 2018 an extension of an existing rider that prevents the Department of Justice from spending money to interfere with state medical cannabis laws. That rider has been federal law since 2014.

The House came just nine flipped votes short of passing the broader recreational protections on the House floor in 2015. Since then, the number of states with legalization has more than doubled, and many more lawmakers who now represent constituents who would be affected by the measure would feel more pressure to support it. But House leaders have since consistently blocked votes on the matter.

Congress Misses Opportunity To Vote On Marijuana Amendment

Photo courtesy of Ted Eytan.

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Tom Angell is the editor of Marijuana Moment. A 20-year veteran in the cannabis law reform movement, he covers the policy and politics of marijuana. Separately, he founded the nonprofit Marijuana Majority. Previously he reported for Marijuana.com and MassRoots, and handled media relations and campaigns for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

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