Protection from the Federal Government for Medical Marijuana Extended Through September
By: Julia Granowicz
Twitter: All Things Cannabis (@allthingscanna) | Twitter or @allthingscanna
The medical marijuana industries across the country can rest easy for now as last Friday President Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017 which includes the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment (formerly known as the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment). The amendment prevents Department of Justice funds to be used to prosecute or pursue businesses or consumers who are in legal compliance with state laws pertaining to medical marijuana.
Since 2014 this spending bill has remained the only legislation that protects the medical marijuana industry from federal interference except for the Cole Memo, which was rescinded by Attorney General Jeff Sessions back in January. The fact that congress largely voted to pass this bill (256-167 in the House, and 65-32 in the Senate) without any controversy over the amendment once again shows that they understand what Sessions does not – this is not a matter where the government needs to interfere.
The bill just signed by President Trump at the end of last week will continue to prevent the Department of Justice from using federal funds go after medical marijuana businesses through September 30th, 2018. At that point, Congress will need to pass another Consolidation Appropriations Act for the fiscal year 2019 – and a group of 59 bi-partisan lawmakers want to see the next bill protect all state legal cannabis, not just specifically those operating in compliance with medical marijuana laws.
“The issue at hand is whether the federal government’s marijuana policy violates the principles of federalism and the Tenth Amendment. Consistent with those principles, we believe that states ought to retain jurisdiction over most criminal justice matters within their borders. This is how the Founders intended our system to function,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to the House Appropriations Committee on Friday.
This would protect the 9 states and D.C. that have legalized cannabis for adult use as well as the 30+ states that have now legalized medical marijuana in some form or another. Considering a growing majority of Americans want to see prohibition ended and replaced with a more sensible policy of legalization and regulation – like the way alcohol is regulated – it only makes sense to allow states to make their own choices when it comes to how cannabis is handled within their respective borders.
For now, those working and medicating through state sanctioned medical marijuana programs will continue to be shielded from federal prosecution. As to whether the Amendment will include all of state-legal cannabis in 2019 or not we will have to wait and see.