Medical Cannabis Protections Extended As Part Of Short Term Federal Budget Agreement

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) addresses NORML members in September, 2017

A recently approved plan by the members of the US House and Senate to temporarily extend federal funding through February 8, 2018 also extends provisions protecting statewide medical cannabis programs from federal interference.

The short-term funding plan authorizes the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment to remain in place for the time being. The amendment, enacted by Congress in 2014, maintains that federal funds cannot be used to prevent states from “implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

Because the provision was initially approved as a budgetary amendment, it must be explicitly re-authorized by Congress as part of either a continuing resolution or a new fiscal year appropriations bill in order to maintain in effect.

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Explained co-sponsor Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA): “I expect that during this time period, we will be maneuvering on the cannabis issue and the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment. So this is a time for people to make sure that they contact their own member of Congress to make sure that they get behind the amendment for the final bill.”

Presently, the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer is included as part of a Senate finance bill. But this language is absent from the House’s funding proposal because House Rules Committee Chair Peter Sessions (R-TX) refused to allow House members to vote on it. As a result, House and Senate leadership will ultimately decide on the amendment’s fate when when the two chambers’ appropriations bills are reconciled — which may or may not be prior to February 8.

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