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Congressman Seeks To Block Feds From Seizing Marijuana From State-Legal Businesses Amid New Mexico Border Patrol Controversy

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U.S. border patrol agents would be prevented from using its funds to seize marijuana from state-licensed businesses under a newly filed amendment to a large-scale spending bill.

Rep. Gabe Vasquez (D-NM) submitted the amendment for consideration as part of 2025 Fiscal Year appropriations legislation covering the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The move appears to be responsive to recent reporting about Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents seizing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of cannabis from state-legal businesses in New Mexico over recent months.

The amendment, which would need to be made in order for floor consideration by the House Rules Committee, reads:

SEC_. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to seize cannabis or products containing cannabis that are possessed, sold, or transferred by a cannabis distributor, licensed by a State, or a business in a State where cannabis has been legalized for recreational or medicinal use.

This is the latest in a series of drug policy-related amendments to be filed from lawmakers across the aisle that they’ve sought to attach to spending bills. Rep. Robert Garcia (D-CA) has also filed an amendment to the DHS measure—as well as to separate appropriations legislation covering State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs and the Department of Defense—that would prevent the relevant agencies from testing job applicants for cannabis in states where it’s legal.

While Garcia has repeatedly attempted to enact that reform as part of numerous legislative packages, this is the first time that the language of the Vasquez amendment has been introduced.

The Rules committee is expected to meet next week to decide which amendments to the bills can receive floor votes.

The controversy over CBP seizures of marijuana from state-licensed businesses has prompted responses from multiple levels of government.

In April, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) could be heard saying on a leaked recording that she was “offended” when the secretary of the DHS reacted to her concern about the recent surge in CBP seizures of marijuana from legal operators in her state by saying, “Who cares? They make a lot of money.”

The governor also said on the call that CBP officials are trying to justify the interdictions of marijuana from state-legal businesses at interior checkpoints, primarily around the Las Cruces area, as a necessary consequence of seizing illicit fentanyl. However, as industry stakeholders have pointed out, the spike in cannabis seizures seems to be largely isolated to New Mexico, even though other states like Arizona and California also have legal cannabis operators near the Mexico border.

New Mexico marijuana businesses report that the more than a dozen CBP seizures, particularly at interior checkpoints around the Las Cruces area, are a relatively new phenomenon. Since adult-use marijuana sales launched in the state in 2022, the operators say they’ve generally been able to transport their products to testing facilities and retailers without incident.

Starting earlier this year ago, however, the agency has evidently taken a more proactive approach to enforcing federal prohibition, taking hundreds of pounds of cannabis at the checkpoints inside the state. CBP is able to carry out its activities within 100 miles of the U.S. border.

“Although medical and recreational marijuana may be legal in some U.S. States and Canada, the sale, possession, production and distribution of marijuana or the facilitation of the aforementioned remain illegal under U.S. federal law, given the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance,” a CBP spokesperson told Marijuana Moment in April. ”Consequently, individuals violating the Controlled Substances Act encountered while crossing the border, arriving at a U.S. port of entry, or at a Border Patrol checkpoint may be deemed inadmissible and/or subject to, seizure, fines, and/or arrest.”

CBP “wants to remind the public that while traveling through any U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint, to include New Mexico, being in possession of marijuana is illegal under federal law,” they said.

CBP’s actions against state-legal marijuana business has also received pushback from other members in Congress as well.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is not doing enough to protect states who are not waiting for the federal government to catch up,” Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), founding co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, told Marijuana Moment in April.

“These seizures underscore the confusion and harm caused by the growing gap between the federal government and state-legal operations,” the congressman said. “Absent descheduling, President Biden urgently needs to issue guidance to prevent this type of infringement from happening again.”

In other appropriations-related developments on Capitol Hill, another GOP-controlled House committee voted last week to maintain a federal ban blocking Washington, D.C. from creating a system of regulated adult-use marijuana sales.

At a House Appropriations Committee hearing last Thursday, members approved an en bloc package of Republican amendments to the 2025 Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) spending legislation that reinserted the D.C. cannabis rider that had previously been omitted from the base bill at the subcommittee level.

That marked another major setback for advocates, as the full committee also voted to remove a section of the bill that would’ve provided limited marijuana banking protections.

Meanwhile the House recently approved a large-scale defense bill that includes a section to prevent military branches from testing recruits for marijuana as a condition of enlistment has been left intact, despite opposition from the White House.

Prior to that, however, the House Rules Committee also rejected proposed amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to prevent security clearance denials based on past marijuana use and codify that military servicemembers can’t be penalized for using or possessing federally legal hemp products and allow veterans to access state medical marijuana programs and eliminate a VA directive barring the department’s doctors from issuing cannabis recommendations.

While the panel didn’t allow the VA-specific amendment to advance as part of the NDAA, the reform was approved by the House this month as part of appropriations legislation covering Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies (MilConVA).

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