Medical Marijuana Budget Amendment Preserved Despite House Setback
Congress passed a budget on Friday that will prevent a potential U.S. default on its debt and provide $15.25 billion for hurricane relief. Importantly, the budget continues protections for medical marijuana programs in states where cannabis has been legalized for medical use. The rider, commonly referred to as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment (the Amendment) after its original sponsors, has been renewed every year since 2014. It prohibits federal funds from being used to prevent a state or jurisdiction from implementing a medical cannabis program. I recently wrote about Attorney General Jeff Sessions targeting the Amendment in this blog post. Fortunately, Sessions’ efforts at shooting down the Amendment were rebuffed and a budget that included it was passed in May.
This time around, the Amendment was in jeopardy for other reasons. The House Rules Committee blocked a number of marijuana provisions, including the Amendment. It survived these blocks. Although this is good news, the current budget only extends through December 8, meaning that the Amendment is only in the clear for three months. If you think that the Feds should stay out of States’ democratically enacted medical marijuana programs then now would be a good time to start contacting your representatives in Congress to let them know your thoughts.