October 21, 2019

October 21, 2019

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

Historic Vote in Congress Aims to Protect State Cannabis Programs

By a vote of 267 to 165, the United States House of Representatives (the “House”) passed a bipartisan amendment protecting state cannabis programs and its users from federal prosecution.

Named after its co-founder, Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), the Blumenauer amendment explicitly prohibits the United States Department of Justice (the “USDOJ”) from utilizing federal tax monies to enforce the federal prohibition of marijuana in states that have legalized cannabis.

The Blumenauer amendment constitutes a significant diversion from prior Congressional action on state cannabis programs.  Since 2014, Congress has enacted similar appropriations riders which only protected state medical cannabis programs.  The Blumenauer amendment, however, protects allstate cannabis programs.  Thus, for the first time, the House has passed an amendment protecting the recreational consumption of cannabis.

Regarding funding, the USDOJ is simply no different than any other federal agency.  Without proper funding, an agency cannot enforce or otherwise impose its mandate on behalf of the federal government.  Thus, for all intents and purposes, the Blumenauer amendment validates state cannabis programs and protects those operating under them.

While the Blumenauer amendment still requires passage through the Senate and President Trump’s signature, the House’s actions are a historic step forward for the federal legalization of cannabis in the United States.

© Steptoe & Johnson PLLC. All Rights Reserved.


About this Author

Ryan Dunne Ewing Medical Cannabis Attorney Steptoe Johnson Law Firm

Ryan Dunne Ewing represents corporate medical cannabis growers, processors, and dispensaries within West Virginia. Ryan ensures prospective medical cannabis organizations comply with the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act and facilitates proper capital handling procedures under the Patriot and Bank Secrecy Acts.

Ryan’s practice also focuses on state and federal infrastructure development.  He regularly counsels both public and private utilities before the Public Service Commission of West Virginia, and he has experience with the funding and...

Joshua Jarrell, Steptoe-Johnson Law Firm, Charleston, Finance Law Attorney
Of Counsel

Josh Jarrell concentrates his practice in public and project finance, municipal bonds and economic development. He also has a background in energy law and title-curative issues. His work throughout the region has built valuable relationships nationwide and fostered in-depth knowledge of options available to developers in West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Clients appreciate his focus and accessibility as much as they do his legal experience. He is the former Deputy Secretary and General Counsel at the West Virginia Department of Commerce, where he counseled the cabinet secretary, agency officials, and employees on legal issues affecting eight separate agencies.