Federal medical cannabis protection extended again
After the latest federal government shutdown, which lasted for just a few hours on Feb. 9, the U.S. Congress approved a short-term spending bill that will extend funding through March 23.
And, once again, this new budget deal includes the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, which prevents the U.S. Department of Justice from spending federal dollars on the prosecution of medical marijuana operations in states where they’ve been deemed legal.
This is the eighth time that the amendment has been given an extension via short-term congressional spending bill.
The last time this happened, up against a Jan. 19 deadline, the House Rules Committee held a spirited debate on the merits of marijuana legalization.
While various members shared either support or opposition for broader legislation, the committee did not specifically address whether the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment would ever be made into a permanent fix—or whether it might be dropped from future spending bills.
This is the eighth time the amendment has been temporarily extended by a continuing resolution from Congress, which hasn’t passed a new federal budget since 2015.
Rohrabacher-Blumenauer prohibits the DOJ from using federal funds to interfere with state-legal MMJ laws and companies.
It’s possible the amendment will be included in a larger spending package that is expected to be approved by March 23.
But there’s no guarantee at this point, given a change in procedural rules in the House of Representatives last year that has prevented amendments like Rohrabacher-Blumenauer from being added to the budget.
A glimmer of hope came from the Senate Appropriations Committee last year, however, when Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy got the amendment added to a Senate version of the spending bill.