Blumenauer-McClintock Amendment Passes House

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Congress
voted on cannabis’s biggest victory ever on Capitol Hill today.

The Blumenauer-McClintock amendment blocks the Department of Justice from using its resources to go after state-legal marijuana providers is the biggest cannabis vote on Capitol Hill since Congress passed a similar measure in 2014 protecting the medical cannabis industry.

Today’s vote was quick. And just as fast those in support took control. The effort won by a giant margin of one hundred votes with 267 members of the house voting in support including numerous Republicans and 165 members voting against the amendment. The Senate will be voting on the amendment next.

“This is the most significant vote on marijuana reform policy that
the House of Representatives has ever taken,” said NORML Political Director
Justin Strekal in a statement following the vote. “Today’s action by Congress
highlights the growing power of the marijuana law reform movement and the
increasing awareness by political leaders that the policy of prohibition and
criminalization has failed.”

The 48 hours leading up to the vote saw everyone on both sides of the argument coming out of the woodwork, we were only missing a Kennedy. While anti-pot Camelot’s own Patrick Kennedy had posted about the failure of New York to legalize on his Twitter, he looks to be avoiding the loss today.  And that’s not me saying that, Kennedy’s Smarter Approaches to Marijuana colleague Kevin Sabet said on Twitter that he expected today’s vote in the House to be brutal. Sabet does expect the resolution to fail in the Senate.

In the lead up to the vote Sabet and NORML political director Justin Strekal offered competing Op-eds in The Hill, one of the most read publications by Congress.

This
morning Sabet offered readers a tale of the Food and Drug Administration being
powerless to stop big marijuana from getting its hands on the youth of America,
and being further unable to take action against bad actors without the help of
the DOJ.

“The
FDA relies on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to take enforcement action when a
company refuses to comply with warnings from the FDA,” Sabet wrote, “Should
this amendment pass into law, the FDA would be hamstrung as they would not be
able to use the DOJ to bring about enforcement action against those who are
actively taking advantage of the cover given by this amendment.”

Michael
Liszewski has been working on federal cannabis reform for over a decade on the
hill and currently serves as a Policy Advisor to the Students for Sensible Drug
Policy. We asked Liszewski if the FDA would really be as powerless as Sabet
claimed should the vote be in its favor. .

“The
Department of Justice is still free to investigate cannabis cases under the
Blumenauer Amendment, they just can’t prosecute without a state law violation,”
Liszewski,

“Bad
actors violating FDA rules can’t hide behind this amendment, it only protects
individuals obeying state law.”

Sabet went on to talk about the super weed of the present not being what you brought to Woodstock before saying the “pot shops” the amendment protects are linked to higher level of crime. Sabet based the crime claim on a recent National Institute on Drug Abuse study. However recent research from the Humboldt Institute for Interdisciplinary Marijuana Research that reviewed 42 studies on the impact of dispensaries on crime recently found the exact opposite.

We
asked NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri his take on what Sabet wrote.

“It
is no surprise our opponents are now twisting themselves into knots to find
ways to legitimize the continued practice of our failed policy of prohibition,”
Altieri told Cannabis Now in an email. “They know the writing is on the wall
and they are losing this fight. As they come to that realization, their
arguments are becoming more detached from reality and more desperate.

Altieri went on to address Sabet’s claims about a powerless FDA.

“Ending the arrest of cannabis consumers is definitively an issue of civil liberties and racial justice and not something we should defer to the FDA on, nor do they seem to have any interest in becoming involved,” he said.

Altieri said prohibitionists are also currently using talking points that are distinctly out of touch with current research.

“For instance, instead of increasing crime, a broad body of research has revealed that the opening of a dispensary has decreased incidents of crime in the neighborhoods they occupy. I guess if I knew the broad majority of the American public was laughing my arguments, I’d throw all kinds of absurd things at the wall too.”

TELL US, do you think the DOJ should let states do their thing when it comes to cannabis?

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