Pubdate: Thu, 04 Jun 2015
Source: Oregonian, The (Portland, OR)
Copyright: 2015 The Oregonian
Author: Jeff Mapes


In a first test vote of its kind, the U.S. House on Wednesday 
narrowly voted down an amendment aimed at giving states the right to 
decide on their own whether marijuana should be legalized.

The failure of the amendment, which was co-sponsored by Oregon Rep. 
Earl Blumenauer, doesn't have an immediate impact on Oregon and the 
three other states that have legalized the possession and sale of marijuana.

The Obama administration has already laid out guidelines for states 
to follow to avoid facing federal action on a drug that remains 
prohibited under federal law. However, the amendment was designed to 
prevent a future administration from interfering with states that 
legalize marijuana, said Bill Post, director of national affairs for 
the Drug Policy Alliance.

The amendment, defeated on a 206-222 vote, was supported by Oregon's 
four Democratic House members and opposed by Republican Rep. Greg Walden.

Walden, whose 2nd Congressional District voters opposed the Measure 
91 initiative legalizing the drug, could not be immediately reached 
for comment.

The House did pass three other amendments supportive of medical 
marijuana and the production of hemp, a non-psychoactive form of marijuana.

Representatives approved an amendment co-sponsored by Oregon Rep. 
Suzanne Bonamici that continues to prohibit the Drug Enforcement 
Administration from undermining laws in Oregon and other states that 
allow the production of hemp.

Also approved were amendments continuing a prohibition on federal 
interference with state medical marijuana laws and protecting state 
laws that allow the use of CBD oils from cannabis plants that have a 
variety of medical uses.

Blumenauer, a Portland Democrat and leading congressional proponent 
of legalizing marijuana, said in a statement that he was disappointed 
Congress didn't allow Oregon and other states to"move forward with 
their voter approved adult-use marijuana of the 
threat of federal interference."

But he said the close vote as well as the support for the other 
amendments marked "the latest victory in a quiet revolution underway 
across America to reform and modernize our marijuana laws."

Bonamici said in a statement that the federal government should not 
be prohibiting the use of hemp. "When law enforcement goes after 
industrial hemp, it does not further public safety; instead it 
deprives farm economies of a potentially multi-billion dollar crop 
that is used to make everything from rope to soap," she said in a statement.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom