4 Riders in Senate Appropriations Bills Support Cannabis Federalism

Spending restrictions aim to stop interference with state marijuana and hemp policies.



Marijuana Majority's Tom Angell notes that three spending bills filed this week by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) include riders aimed at preventing federal interference with state cannabis policies. Two of the riders were enacted in December 2014 but need to be renewed for the next fiscal year. Section 542 of S.B. 2131 instructs the Justice Department (which includes the Drug Enforcement Administration) to refrain from blocking implementation of state laws allowing medical use of marijuana, and Section 541 of the same bill tells the DOJ not to interfere with the industrial hemp research programs that Congress authorized last year.

Two other riders have been proposed before but never enacted. Section 246 of S.B. 2130 tells the Department of Veterans Affairs, which currently forbids its doctors to discuss medical marijuana with their patients, to change that policy and to refrain from penalizing veterans who use marijuana for symptom relief in states where that's legal by denying them services. Section 639 of S.B. 2132 bars the Treasury Department from spending money to penalize banks that provide services to state-legal marijuana businesses, including businesses serving recreational consumers.

Angell points out that S.B. 2132, which includes money for the District of Columbia, leaves out a rider that stopped the D.C. Council from creating a system for licensing and regulating marijuana businesses after voters overwhelmingly approved a 2014 ballot initiative that legalized recreational use. If that rider is omitted from the final version of the bill, D.C. will be free to allow commercial cultivation and distribution of recreational marijuana, even without resorting to fiscal sleight of hand.

"We won bipartisan votes on all of these issues this year either on the House floor, in the Senate Appropriations Committee, or both," Angell says, "so this is a rare case of congressional leadership actually listening to their members—and to the American people. Just a few short years ago, politicians used to jump all over each other to be seen as the 'toughest' on drugs. But now that polls consistently show that a growing majority of Americans support legalization, more elected officials are beginning to realize that scaling back failed prohibition policies is not only the right thing to do; it's politically smart."

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  1. Section 639 of S.B. 2132 bars the Treasury Department from spending money to penalize banks that provide services to state-legal marijuana businesses, including businesses serving recreational consumers.

    Didn’t Treasury already offload those harassment duties to another agency?

    1. Yes, the banner has been taken up by the Federal Reserve banks…”nice bank you got there, it’d be unfortunate if we pull its access to the financial system”.

  2. Guess i better stock up on Doritos.

  3. Pot and guns and guns and pot.

    And porn!

    Then Tulpa and Tony show up.

    And every day is a new day?

    Life is a merry-go-round and groundhog day, all rolled into one.

    Deja vu all over again.

    Pot and guns and guns and pot.

    1. Sounds like my plans for the weekend, minus Tulpa and Tony, of course.

      1. A healthy dose of nipples, lips, ear lobes, inner thigh, pinkie toes, a furry pink galaxy dripping steaming big bangs of desire, brooks of booze, a super cool sunset, a light breeze dancing with shimmering nude fairies carrying solo cups filled to the brim with glowing elf jizz, the odd deviant turnabout in the farthest corner of the woods with a portal gun and that long lost girl in ‘I Dream of Jeannie’ (I’m not old- it’s just that sexuality is rightfully odd), and an earth at peace would cap the weekend pyramid like an bursting blaze of golden satisfaction.

        1. Strangely – that is close to my plans for the weekend too.

    2. Liberals are for pot and promiscuity.

      Conservatives are for guns and tobacco.

      Libertarians are for all 4 plus pornography.

      Duke for President!

  4. Politics is ethics scratching in its coffin.

  5. Chris Christie is going to be pissed.

  6. Is the resulting legisl’n going to leave the situation as one where certain actions are violations of 1 statutory provision, while another statutory provision blocks the enforcement of those viol’ns?

  7. Bizarre that sec. 542 lists the great majority of states as where it’s applicable to regarding medical marijuana. Why didn’t it just say “any state”? Why leave it so that $ can be spent on enforcement in a few of the states, even if they subsequently adopt med mj laws?

  8. I have little hope for Missouri getting with the program. Forget the Republicans, we have a full roster of Clintonian Democrats who profess ignorance about the medicinal benefits and claim the issue requires more “study” while of course the Schedule I classification inhibits those studies from being conducted. Maybe…maybe we’ll have a ballot initiative next year.

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