By a vote of 21-8,The appropriation committee approved the amendment that prohibits the Department of Justice from spending money to prevent states “from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”
The measure is now attached to the Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill, and heads to the full Senate.
The legislation is expected to be considered as soon as next month by the House, which approved a nearly identical amendment by a vote of 242-186 last June.
The measure’s sponsor Senator Barbara Mikulski said that rather than interfering with the medical marijuana sales which the state determined through an open process, the DEA should concentrate more to keep the illegal drugs out of the border.
On Thursday, the appropriation panel also approved a separate amendment which protects state industrial hemp laws from DEA interference.
Before the vote, the Senator Jeff Merkley said that hemp had a rich history in US. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew the crop and US constitution was written on hemp paper.
Experts said that the new amendment will pave the way to advanced research in medical marijuana field.