Will Medical Marijuana Protections Come to an End?

Federal protections for state-legal medical marijuana businesses could expire Friday, Dec. 8, when the federal government is set to run out of money.

The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment (formerly known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment) may or may not be included in the new budget bill currently being reviewed by a federal special conference committee consisting of members of various House and Senate appropriations committees.

Should it not be included, the Department of Justice (DOJ), under supervision of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, would be free to prosecute state-compliant medical cannabis businesses.

The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment prohibits the DOJ from using federal tax dollars to interfere with states that have made their own laws regarding the legalization of medical marijuana. The legal memorandum was originally issued by the DOJ in 2013 and sets the policy of non-interference in state laws as long as regulations do not threaten federal priorities like distribution to minors and supporting drug cartels, according to CNN.

‘Cautiously Optimistic’

Despite some uncertainty surrounding the bill and the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, especially considering the Attorney General’s outspokenness against marijuana, Morgan Fox, director of communications for Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), is optimistic that the amendment will pass.

“Since the conference committee meetings happen behind closed doors, there is no way to tell what is being considered and who is fighting for inclusion at this point,” Fox said. “However, I think there is a good chance that it will be included, given that it has been renewed every year since it first passed in 2014.” 

The amendment was renewed in May under the current administration as part of a spending bill.

NORML Political Director Justin Strekal noted that the amendment has bipartisan pressure and support, and he believes what will likely happen on Dec. 8 is the passage of a continuing resolution (CR) that will provide

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