House Passes Spending Bill with Cannabis Protections

On Friday, the US House of Representatives voted 217-197 to pass H.R. 7617, a package of six fiscal year 2021 appropriations bills, which contains a range of cannabis-related protections.

A key protection, known as the Blumenauer-McClintock-Norton-Lee amendment, added to the FY 2021 Commerce-Justice-Science Funding Bill, would, for the duration of the fiscal year, prevent the federal government from using funds to interfere with state-legal medical or adult use programs and businesses. 

Still, it’s unclear whether this, or other cannabis protections, will survive the Senate. While protection for medical cannabis programs has previously cleared Congress, such language for adult use programs has yet to do so.

The minibus of spending bills passed on Friday includes: Defense; Commerce-Justice-Science; Energy and Water Development; Financial Services and General Government; Labor-HHS-Education; and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development.

Here is a quick rundown of the cannabis protections (check out Cannabis Wire’s resource page on how federal cannabis prohibition affects banking, research, higher education, and housing, among other areas):

Financial Services and General Government: “None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to penalize a financial institution solely because the institution provides financial services to an entity that is a manufacturer, a producer, or a person that participates in any business or organized activity that involves handling hemp, hemp-derived cannabidiol products, other hemp-derived cannabinoid products, marijuana, marijuana products, or marijuana proceeds, and engages in such activity pursuant to a law established by a State, political subdivision of a State, or Indian Tribe.” 

Also, the bill “removes objectionable policy riders previously carried that intrude on home rule in the District of Columbia,” and “eliminates a ban on the use of local funds to legalize marijuana,” according to a House summary of the bill. (Cannabis is legal in D.C., but only for personal possession and home grow; this language relates to efforts to establish a system for regulated sales.)

Commerce-Justice-Science: “None of the funds made available under this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to any” of the jurisdictions with legal medical use “to prevent any of them from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.” 

Labor-HHS-Education: “None of the funds appropriated by this title for the Department of Education shall be withheld from an institution of higher education solely because that institution is conducting or preparing to conduct research on marihuana.” 

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