Today, the United States House of Representatives narrowly voted to approve the Blumenauer/McClintock amendment to the Fiscal Year 2019 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill that will prohibit Department of Justice funding from being used to enforce federal law upon stores, facilities, and growers trafficking in so-called recreational marijuana. As a result of this amendment, the Food and Drug Administration – which uses the DOJ to take action against entities that fail to adhere to FDA guidelines – will be powerless to hold the industry accountable for marketing harmful, high potency marijuana products in kid-friendly forms.
“Though this vote has little chance of passing in the Senate and becoming law, it is unfortunate the members of the House who voted in support of this amendment have been duped by the pot industry into thinking this amendment is a good idea,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, president and founder of Smart Approaches to Marijuana and a former senior drug policy advisor to the Obama Administration. “This amendment, spearheaded by one of the largest recipients of marijuana industry donations in Congress, is a massive handout to Big Marijuana and effectively sends the message that no matter how many health and safety harms the industry causes, it is protected from federal oversight. At any rate, this fight is far from over.”
The passage of the Blumenauer/McClintock amendment comes the day after lawmakers in New York rejected a bill to legalize the commercial sale of marijuana in the state, thanks in large part to the broad coalition led by SAM affiliate, SAM New York. With this development, New York joins New Jersey, Minnesota, Vermont, Rhode Island, New Mexico, Connecticut, and Hawaii in rejecting marijuana commercialization in 2019 as a result of opposition led by SAM.
“The marijuana industry is spending millions on lobbyists in an attempt to continue its expansion and normalization through amendments such as this and by trying to ram legalization bills through statehouses,” continued Dr. Sabet. “While the industry is blowing smoke, parents, medical professionals and associations, teachers, and addiction workers, are spreading the message on the reality of legalization. Lawmakers don’t want to be responsible for increased drugged driving, increased use, second hand smoke, out of control black markets, serious mental health issues and addiction. Congress should follow the lead of these states and reject the marijuana industry.”