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House lawmakers on Capitol Hill late Thursday voted 219-189 to prevent the Department of Justice from stopping the implementation of medical marijuana laws in Massachusetts and other states.
Two members of the nine-member Massachusetts delegation voted against the measure, which was part of an appropriations bill.
Keating, Kennedy, vote against the amendment
Reps. Joseph Kennedy and Bill Keating joined 172 Republicans and 15 fellow Democrats in voting against the amendment.
The amendment, sponsored by California Republican Dana Rohrabacher, was attached to an appropriations bill (H 4660) totaling $51.2 billion in discretionary spending for the Department of Justice, the Department of Commerce, NASA and the National Science Foundation.
The amendment prevents the Department of Justice from using the funds to stop 32 states and the District of Columbia from implementing laws authorizing the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.
"Major victory" for Pot Shops
Medical marijuana advocates called the vote a “major victory” and said they expect the U.S. Senate to tackle a similar amendment later this summer. They said the Department of Justice is litigating against medical marijuana dispensary operators and landlords in San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley. “This Congressional vote is a huge victory for patients,” Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access, said in a statement.
"No longer will we have to look over our shoulder and worry when the next raid or indictment will prevent us from safely and legally accessing our medicine.” Spokespeople for Kennedy and Keating were not immediately available for comment on Friday morning.