HISTORY: Congress Takes Bipartisan Step to End War on Medical Marijuana

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With a 219-189 vote, including 49 Republicans voting in support, the House of Representatives approved a measure denying the use of federal funds to undermine state-authorized medical cannabis laws

First act of Congress to protect medical marijuana patients and caregivers reflects overwhelming public support for medical cannabis

WASHINGTON, DC – In an historic vote late last night, the U.S. House of Representatives took a major step to end the federal government’s war on medical cannabis patients and caregivers. With 219 Members of Congress, including 49 Republicans, voting in support, the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment to the Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriations bill forbids the use of federal funds to raid, harass, or otherwise interfere with medical cannabis patients or providers in states where medical marijuana is legal.

“On behalf of lawful cannabis businesses across the United States, NCIA applauds the Members of Congress who supported this historic step,” said National Cannabis Industry Association director of government relations Michael Correia. “Voters overwhelmingly support the idea that patients whose lives can be changed by medical cannabis should be able to get that medicine legally, and the time has come for the federal government to respect the states that have made that possible. The House took that step last night.”

“This is a truly historic vote and a great day for state-legal businesses that many advocates and business owners, myself included, have worked for years to make happen,” said Etienne Fontan, chief operations officer for Berkeley Patients Group in Berkeley, California. “We’re elated and hope this signals an end to federal interference in states where cannabis is legal.”

Berkeley Patients Group is a licensed medical cannabis collective in California and has provided legal cannabis to patients for 15 years and has been the target of federal property forfeiture action despite its standing as one of the nation’s most well-respected medical cannabis operations. Fontan, a Gulf War combat veteran who also serves on the Board of Directors for NCIA.

The Justice, Science, and Commerce appropriations bill making its way through the U.S. Senate does not currently include the language of the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, so the provision must either be added during Senate debate or retained during the conference committee actions that will reconcile differences between the two bills.

“If you’ve been wondering when Congress would be forced to catch up to public opinion on cannabis, it started last night,” said Correia. “The House of Representatives has done its part to respect state laws, patients, and the will of the voters. The Senate should do the same.”

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