Marijuana reform measure clears Senate panel

Marijuana reform measure clears Senate panel
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The Senate is tackling marijuana reform through a series of government funding bills.

The medical marijuana provision approved Thursday by the Senate Appropriations Committee would prohibit the Justice Department from interfering with state laws, and comes just a week after the House passed similar legislation.

Pot advocates say this all but assures the measure will be included in the final government spending bill that Congress sends to President Obama.

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"Congress is making it clear that the Department of Justice and the [Drug Enforcement Administration] have no business interfering in state medical marijuana laws,” said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies at the Marijuana Policy Project.

The pot amendment introduced by Sen. Barbara MikulskiBarbara MikulskiClinton: White House slow-walking Russia sanctions Top Lobbyists 2017: Hired Guns Gore wishes Mikulski a happy birthday at 'Inconvenient Sequel' premiere MORE (D-Md.) effectively paves the way for the legalization of medical marijuana. While some states may still choose to prohibit the medicinal use of pot, the federal government would not be allowed to overrule states that allow it.

The Senate committee approved the amendment 20-10 on Thursday, just a week after Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and Sam FarrSam FarrMedical marijuana supporters hopeful about government funding bill Marijuana advocates to give away free joints on Capitol Hill DEA decision against reclassifying marijuana ignores public opinion MORE (D-Calif.) pushed a similar measure through the House as part of a marijuana vote-a-rama.

This is also the second medical marijuana provision to make its way into the Senate version of a government spending bill.

Last month, the same Senate committee voted to give veterans more access to medical marijuana as part of another funding bill, for the military. VA doctors would no longer be prohibited from prescribing pot to sick military veterans.

"We’re entering an era where marijuana reform is accepted as mainstream and not seen as controversial, and that’s exactly where we want to be,” said Tom Angell, chairman of the Marijuana Majority.