Congressional panel votes to protect US medical marijuana from Sessions

Since 2015, introducing measures to advance medical cannabis legalisation has been tough due to key anti-marijuana figures holding power in the United States. (File image via Reuters)
Since 2015, introducing measures to advance medical cannabis legalisation has been tough due to key anti-marijuana figures holding power in the United States. (File image via Reuters)

A bipartisan congressional panel voted on Thursday to continue protecting U.S. medical marijuana patients and providers, who already live in states where medicinal cannabis is legal, from federal government’s interference.

The House Appropriations Committee, whose task is to pass appropriation bills along with its Senate counterpart, voted to continue with a provision that protects states’ legal medical marijuana, Forbes reported on Thursday.

There are 29 U.S. states where medical marijuana is legal, and more states are expected to legalize cannabis for its medicinal benefits.

Since 2014, this provision was first attached to a legislation that funds the U.S. Department of Justice, making it part of the federal law.

However, its continuance hasn’t been guaranteed since the Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX) and the Trump Administration so far haven’t been friendly to accept any amendments to facilitate cannabis operations at least in states where it has been legalized.

pete 1024x576 - Congressional panel votes to protect US medical marijuana from Sessions
Pete Sessions is a conservative Congressman from Texas, who is the chairman of the House Rules Committee. He is an anti-marijuana diehard. (File photo via Reuters)

To make it happen, the provision was included as a rider to the legislation funding U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions department for Fiscal Year 2019.

A rider is an additional provision added to a bill or other measure under the consideration by a legislature, having little connection with the subject matter of the bill.

Historically has been approved

However, the provision was already approved on the House floor but Pete Sessions has effectively blocked floor votes on cannabis amendments for the last several years.

On Wednesday, his panel also prevented three hemp measures from advancing.

“I’d be remiss if I did not point out that recent polling from just last month shows 92 percent of the American people support the use of medical marijuana ,” Forbes quoted Rep. David Joyce (R-OH) as saying.

Joyce was the one who offered the amendment.

“In fact, even more, voters from every political demographic oppose federal interference in state marijuana laws.”

Since 2015, legislators couldn’t bring any medical marijuana measures before the full chamber due to Pete Sessions’s panel consistent blockage of any cannabis proposals despite popular support.

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