Today, a bipartisan group of 44 representatives sent a letter to the House Appropriations Committee calling for the upcoming FY 2022 spending package to build upon existing policy for state-legal medical marijuana programs and expand protections to include adult-use marijuana marketplaces now in effect in 17 states. 

The letter opens: “As you prepare the fiscal year (FY) 2022 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies appropriations bill, we respectfully request that you include language barring the Department of Justice from prosecuting those who comply with their state or tribal marijuana laws.” 

The letter was led by Congressional Cannabis Caucus co-Chairs Earl Blumenauer and Barbara Lee, along with Tom McClintock and Eleanor Holmes Norton. 

The letter continues: “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 17 of those have adult-use programs. Most of these laws were decided by ballot initiatives. We believe that the federal government should not interfere with these programs and the will of the citizens of these states.”

The letter goes on to point out how the Blumenauer-McClintock-Norton-Lee amendment has already passed in bipartisan floor votes in 2019 and 2020, but was unfortunately excluded by the Republican Senate Appropriations Committee led by then-Chairman Richard Shelby of Alabama. It is worth noting that Alabama is in the minority of states that do not allow its citizens access to safe and legal therapeutic cannabis. 

Signatories of the letter include Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jefferies; Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler; Oversight and Reform Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney; Small Business Chairwoman Nydia Velazquez; Natural Resources Chairman Raúl Grijalva; Progressive Caucus Chairwoman Pramila Jayapal; Dean of the House Don Young; among others.

You can read the full letter and download it here.

“The importance of this bipartisan amendment cannot be overstated as nearly half of all Americans reside in a jurisdiction where the adult-use of cannabis is legal under state statute, with programs supporting over 321,000 full time jobs. It is time for Congress to acknowledge this reality and ensure these protections are in the final spending bill,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal.

You can read NORML’s memo about cannabis policy reform and the appropriations process here

NORML has created an action alert for supporters of marijuana policy reform to contact their lawmakers in support of this amendment and already ten-of-thousands of messages have been sent to Congress by voters.