Reed Smith Client Alerts

In a landmark legislative development, the U.S. House of Representatives recently approved the Blumenauer-McClintock-Norton amendment (the Amendment), which, if signed into law, would prevent the U.S. Department of Justice (the DOJ) from using appropriated funds to interfere with a state’s legal adult-use cannabis program. Similar protections already exist for recreational cannabis.

Authors: Adam D. Brownrout Michael H. Sampson

In a further show of support for the legal cannabis industry in the United States, the House recently voted 267-165 in favor of prohibiting the DOJ from using appropriated funds to interfere with a state-legal cannabis program. The Amendment would be included as part of H.R. 3055, which provides the 2019-2020 agency appropriations for commerce, justice, and science. The Amendment specifically provides that “none of the funds made available under this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to any of the states,…to prevent any of them from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of marijuana.” 

Approval of the Amendment marks the first time that either branch of the U.S. Congress has voted to protect state-legal adult-use cannabis programs from federal enforcement actions. Since 2014, Congress has repeatedly endorsed the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment (Rohrabacher Amendment) (later changed to Rohrabacher-Blumenauer), which provided similar protections but only to state-legal medical marijuana programs. The Amendment would extend the same protection to adult-use recreational programs.