Marijuana Law Reform Progress in Congress, Still More Work Needed


Several marijuana law reform measures were voted on in the United States House of Representatives on Wednesday, with the most progressive measure was defeated 206-222. Congressman Earl Blumenaur’s amendment that would have officially allowed states’ to chart their own course on marijuana legalization narrowly failed, but states are primarily free from federal interference so long as following guidelines set forth by the Obama Administration. Hopefully, the next presidential administration will follow Obama’s marijuana policy, if not improve upon it. Wednesday’s narrow vote does demonstrate progress and it certainly looks like a states’ rights to marijuana bill looks passable in the next few years. As The Oregonian notes, progress was made on other fronts:

The House did pass three other amendments supportive of medical marijuana and the production of hemp, a non-psychoactive form of marijuana.

Representatives approved an amendment co-sponsored by Oregon Rep. Suzanne Bonamici that continues to prohibit the Drug Enforcement Administration from undermining laws in Oregon and other states that allow the production of hemp.

Also approved were amendments continuing a prohibition on federal interference with state medical marijuana laws and protecting state laws that allow the use of CBD oils from cannabis plants that have a variety of medical uses.

Wednesday’s vote in the US House is the latest example of elected officials creeping closer to the marijuana mainstream, but still lagging behind national polls. As cannabis law reforms are passed in cities and states across the nation, we can expect more and more elected officials to finally represent their constituents on the issue. The 206-222 vote is actually very heartening for me as it is only a matter of time before the common-sense provision is passed.

It doesn’t make any sense for the federal government to waste resources to interfere with states’ marijuana laws. A majority of Americans support legalization and a super-majority wants Uncle Sam to allow states to be the laboratories of democracy. While we don’t have enough Earl Blumenauers in Congress, the advances being made demonstrate the great leadership of Rep. Blumenauer and the undeniable fact that marijuana has gone mainstream and prohibition’s days are numbered.

Anthony Johnson

Anthony, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, was Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon's cannabis legalization effort. He served as director of both the New Approach Oregon and Vote Yes on 91 PACs, the political action committees responsible for the state's legalization campaign. As director of New Approach Oregon, Anthony continues to work towards effectively implementing the cannabis legalization system while protecting small business owners and the rights of patients. He sits on the Oregon Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee and fights for sensible rules at the legislature as well as city councils and county commissions across the state. Anthony helps cannabis business comply with Oregon's laws and advises advocates across the country. He also serves as content director of both the International Cannabis Business Conference and the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference, helping share the vision of moving the cannabis industry forward in a way that maintains the focus on keeping people out of prison and protecting patients. He was a member of the Oregon Health Authority Rules Advisory Committee, assisting the drafting of the administrative rules governing Oregon’s state-licensed medical marijuana facilities. He first co-authored and helped pass successful marijuana law reform measures while a law student at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. He passed the Oregon Bar in 2005 and practiced criminal defense for two years before transitioning to working full-time in the political advocacy realm. His blogs on Marijuana Politics are personal in nature and don't speak for or reflect the opinions of any group or organization.