While the House is majority Democrat, the measure passed with a floor vote of 267 to 165, meaning the effort was bipartisan. If it passes, the DOJ will no longer have a say regarding state laws that govern recreational use, growing pot or selling the stuff.
“This is the most significant vote on marijuana reform policy that the House of Representatives has ever taken,” said Justin Strekal, Political Director at NORML. “Today’s action by Congress highlights the growing power of the marijuana law reform movement and the increasing awareness by political leaders that the policy of prohibition and criminalization has failed.”
Members of the marijuana industry welcomed the news.
“The historic nature of this vote cannot be overstated,” said Neal Levine, CEO of the Cannabis Trade Federation. “For the first time, a chamber of Congress has declared that the federal government should defer to state cannabis laws.”
The bill had bipartisan sponsorship coming from Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Tom McClintock (R-CA).
“I do not believe the federal government has that authority, but even if it did, states should determine their own criminal justice policies,” wrote Rep. McClintock to his colleagues before the vote. “This is how our constitutional system was designed to function.”
“The end of marijuana prohibition has never been closer. When Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) and a small band of allies first worked on this amendment in 2015, we were told that we didn’t stand a chance,” said the DPA Director of National Affairs, Michael Collins. “But we convinced members this was the right thing to do, and four years on, victory is sweet.”
This isn’t the only victory for sensible drug policy that has recently made its way through the House. On Thursday, the House voted in favor of the establishment of regulations for CBD. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) was also able to divert $5 million from the DEA to opioid treatment programs, but failed to push through a measure that would allow more research on the effects of psychedelics.