Rep. Lamb votes against bill meant to protect legal-cannabis states from federal prosecution | Weed | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Rep. Lamb votes against bill meant to protect legal-cannabis states from federal prosecution

Last week, the U.S. House passed an amendment that would prohibit the Department of Justice from interfering with state and tribal cannabis programs. This means that federal law enforcement can’t impede efforts by states or U.S. territories to pass legal marijuana programs.

With polls showing that about two-thirds of Americans support legalizing marijuana, the amendment passed relatively easily by a vote 254-163, with bi-partisan support.

U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) sponsored the bill and said on the House floor that “we’ve watched across the country shifting attitudes,” and noted the necessity of the bill since “the federal government, sadly, is still trapped by the dead hand of Richard Nixon’s war on drugs, declaring cannabis a Schedule I controlled substance.”

But even with the bipartisan support, and overwhelmingly support from Democrats, one local rep didn’t offer his support. Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Mt. Lebanon) voted against the amendment on July 30. He was part of six Democrats to vote against the amendment. Another Pennsylvania Democrat to vote against the amendment was Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Lackawanna).

Marijuana is still considered an illegal substance by the federal government on the same level as heroin, LSD, and cocaine. Even so, about 18 states are working to loosen their marijuana laws this year, with several of them possibly making the sale of recreational marijuana legal.

A request for comment about Lamb’s vote to his office went unanswered. Lamb is locked in a somewhat competitive re-election campaign against Republican challenger Sean Parnell, whose campaign out-raised Lamb last quarter.
click to enlarge Rep. Lamb votes against bill meant to protect legal-cannabis states from federal prosecution
CP photo: Sebastian Foltz
Conor Lamb
Recreational marijuana has considering support in Pennsylvania, particularly among Democrats. A May poll from Pennsylvania Cannabis Coalition (PCC) industry group and conducted by Harrisburg-based Harper Polling, showed that 62 percent of Pennsylvanians support legalizing cannabis. According to this poll, 76% self-describe liberals in Pennsylvania support legal marijuana, and 63% of moderates support it. Southwestern Pennsylvania counties, including Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Greene, Fayette, Somerset, Washington, Westmoreland, give 63% of support to legal weed.

Pennsylvania has a medical-marijuana program, but recreational marijuana is still illegal. Gov. Tom Wolf (D-York) supports a statewide recreational-marijuana programs, as do many Democrats like state Rep. Jake Wheatley (D-Hill District). But Republicans, who control the legislature, have largely rejected creating a program.

Lamb has been consistent in his vote against this amendment, as he voted against it in 2019 as well. U.S. Rep Mike Kelly (R-Butler) also voted against the bill, as did most Republicans. U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Peters) was not present for the vote, likely since he is quarantining after a possible coronavirus exposure. One Pittsburgh-area representative did back the amendment, U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Forest Hills).

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D-Braddock) has been lobbying hard for the commonwealth to pass a legal weed bill, and that effort has only increased during the coronavirus pandemic. Fetterman believes the revenue that a legal cannabis program could bring would be crucial in helping the state recover from economic fallout caused by COVID-19.
When asked what he thought of Lamb’s vote against an amendment to protect states like Pennsylvania who are considering passing legal-marijuana law, Fetterman responded to Pittsburgh City Paper with a meme of journalist Jonathan Swan looking perplexed, with the caption “Wait, he voted how?”