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House GOP blocks vote protecting medical marijuana states

Several lawmakers said Wednesday that GOP leaders won't allow the full House to vote on an amendment that bars the Justice Department from pursuing states that have legalized medical marijuana.

Without legislation, states would lose protection they have enjoyed for the past four years, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions could begin his long-sought crackdown on the rapid expansion of legalized pot.

At a Wednesday morning closed-door briefing of House Republicans, California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R) implored his GOP colleagues to press House leaders to allow a vote on his amendment.

Fellow Californian Rep. Duncan Hunter told The Hill that after Rohrabacher "talked about it this morning in conference," GOP leaders said "it splits the conference too much so we're not going to have a vote on it."

Rohrabacher had pled with his colleagues in a Tuesday night floor speech to allow the vote.

"The status quo for four years has been the federal government will not interfere because the Department of Justice is not permitted to use its resources to supercede a state that has legalized the medical use of marijuana," Rohrabacher said.

He said that without his amendment, "we're changing the status quo in a way that undermines the rights of the states and the people ... to make their policy."

Rohrabacher's amendment, co-sponsored with Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer (Ore.), was included in the previous four Commerce-Justice-Science funding measures, when President Obama was in the White House. It was also included in an omnibus funding bill signed by President Trump earlier this year that expires at the end of the month.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy's (R-Calif.) offices did not respond to requests for comment.

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