When President Trump signed a recent spending bill, he not only prevented the looming third federal government shutdown of the year, but also let the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment slide through, thus continuing protections of state-compliant medical marijuana operations. While seemingly small, this was a pretty significant victory for those who depend on medical marijuana, whether as a patient or cannabis business owner. Marijuana users have been somewhat nervous since the change in administration, particularly with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions openly making it his mission to eradicate all advancements in the marijuana industry.
First introduced as Rohrabacher-Farr in 2001, the amendment as we know it was not signed into law until December 2014. As our medical marijuana attorneys can explain, while it does not legalize medical marijuana federally, it essentially restricts officials from spending government funds to disrupt any medical marijuana-related actions or businesses that are in compliance with relevant state and local laws. The catch is, the amendment must be renewed every year to remain in effect. It is essentially a bandage Congress created to stop the war being waged between states and the federal government. More states now have legalized medical marijuana than not. Meanwhile the federal government is clinging to an outdated Schedule 1 classification of marijuana under Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. Section 812.
President Trump previously signed this same amendment into an appropriations act in May 2017. But that time, he did so with an ominous disclaimer attached, according t0 Marijuana Moment. He intentionally called out the section of the bill and stated that he would acknowledge the provision with the understanding that it was his job to ensure laws be “faithfully executed.” This, along with Sessions taking shots at other marijuana protections this past year, has made cannabis business owners nervous. And even with this amendment, recreational marijuana would not be protected.
Sessions claims his anti-marijuana agenda is simply him doing his job in upholding the law of the land. But the old policies Sessions is favorable toward were essentially when marijuana law was used as a weapon to oppress, control and criminalize large swaths of certain communities, mostly poor minorities. For years, misinformation stirred irrational fear over a pretty benign drug and created confusion and division in the country. We are so close to leaving those days behind us, and yet, there are still some major hurdles to be cleared.
The continuation of this amendment is a good start, but it’s not the end. This spending bill only lasts until September, at which point the amendment will be in limbo again while Congress and the president consider its extension. Our experienced medical marijuana lawyers in Los Angeles hope that with a major election right around the corner in November, politicians from both parties will want to continue to support this highly popular bipartisan issue – and hopefully remove the Schedule I classification entirely.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients, defendants, workers and those facing criminal marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.
Federal Spending Bill Includes Medical Marijuana Protections, March 22, 2018, NORML
More Blog Entries:
Sessions Rolls Back Directive Protecting State Marijuana Laws, Jan. 25, 2018, Medical Marijuana Lawyers Blog