Blumenauer, McClintock, Norton, Lee Urge Congressional Leaders to Respect Voters’ Will, Protect State, Territory, and Tribal Cannabis Programs from Federal Interference

November 10, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) teamed up with U.S. Congresspeople Tom McClintock (R-CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), and Barbara Lee (D-CA) today to urge House leaders to respect the will of voters across America, by including language to protect state, territory, and tribal cannabis programs from federal interference in the end-of-year Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations bill. 

“To date, 48 states have enacted laws that, to varying degrees, relax their prohibitions against the use of marijuana or its components, such as CBD oil. Of those, 36 states have medical marijuana programs, and 18 of those states plus Washington, D.C., the Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam have adult-use programs. Most of these laws were decided by the voters directly through ballot initiatives. We believe that the federal government should not interfere with these programs and the will of the voters of these states,” the lawmakers wrote to House Appropriations Committee. 

Additionally, as states increasingly establish state-legal marijuana programs, tribes continue to face uncertainty with respect to federal guidance on marijuana. The federal government should provide clarity and respect the sovereignty and will of Indian tribes should they choose to enact marijuana laws in the same way that most states have,” they continued.

Blumenauer, McClintock, Norton, and Lee previously led legislation to ensure that the Department of Justice would not waste its resources on blocking or otherwise interfering with the implementation of cannabis legislation enacted by states and territories. Last year, that legislation was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 254-163, before dying in the Senate.

Full text of the lawmakers’ letter is available here and follows below. 

 

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Dear Chairwoman DeLauro, Ranking Member Granger, Chair Cartwright, and Ranking Member Aderholt,  

As you continue negotiations for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies appropriations bill, we request that you include language barring the use of federal funds for the Department of Justice to prosecute those who are in compliance with their state-legal or tribal-legal  adult-use marijuana laws.  

To date, 48 states have enacted laws that, to varying degrees, relax their prohibitions against the use of marijuana or its components, such as CBD oil. Of those, 36 states have medical marijuana programs, and 18 of those states plus Washington, D.C., the Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam have adult-use programs. Most of these laws were decided by the voters directly through ballot initiatives. We believe that the federal government should not interfere with these programs and the will of the voters of these states.   

Any end of year appropriations package must include the following language:  

None of the funds made available by this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to any of the States, the District of Columbia, or U.S. territories to prevent any of them from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of marijuana.  

In 2019, similar language was supported by the House of Representatives by a vote of 267-165 and again in 2020 by a vote of 254-163.  

Additionally, as states increasingly establish state-legal marijuana programs, tribes continue to face uncertainty with respect to federal guidance on marijuana. The federal government should provide clarity and respect the sovereignty and will of Indian tribes should they choose to enact marijuana laws in the same way that most states have.   

Therefore, we also ask to include the following language:   

None of the funds made available by this Act to the Department of Justice may be used to prevent any Indian tribe (as such term is defined in section 4 of the Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act (25 U.S.C. 5304)) from enacting or implementing tribal laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of marijuana.  

The House of Representatives passed this language in 2019 by voice vote.   

As Congress continues to consider broader reforms to our nation’s marijuana laws, it is critical that the FY 2022 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies appropriations bill provide clarity and certainty to states, tribes, the District of Columbia, and territories that the federal government will not interfere with their marijuana programs, regardless of whether the marijuana laws are adult-use or medicinal.  

Thank you for your consideration and your support.  

 

Sincerely,