President Donald Trump signed a temporary spending bill into law which safeguards the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment that protects states’ medical marijuana rights until January 19th.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore, who is the co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus and champion of the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, announced thatRohrabacher-Blumenauer has a brief reprieve. “Patients around the country who rely on medical marijuana for treatment, and the businesses that serve them, now have some measure of certainty,” he said in a statement issued by his office. “Our fight, however, continues to maintain these important protections in the next funding bill passed by Congress.”
The Measure of Medical Marijuana Protection Passes
On December 21, the House passed the measure that extended protection to the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment in a 231-188 vote despite Democratic opposition. It then cleared the Senate by 66-32. In the Senate vote, many Democrats from Republican-leaning states were key in providing the necessary votes needed to pass.
Understanding the Importance of Rohrabacher-Blumenauer
The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment provides protections for the states with medical marijuana programs. The amendment was implemented in order to prohibit theU.S. Department of Justice from dipping into any federal funds in an effort to keep states from implementing their own medical marijuana laws that give them the authority to distribute, sell, use, possess and cultivate cannabis for medicinal purposes. The amendment further protects residents of medical marijuana legal states from facing federal prosecution for acting legally under the states’ medical marijuana laws.
The Future of Medical Marijuana Remains Uncertain
Unfortunately, to keep the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment in place it must be renewed every year along with the budget. If the budget is delayed or not approved and the government shuts down then the protections provided by the amendment are no longer enforceable which creates uncertainty and danger of prosecution for all states where medical marijuana is legal. However, with President Trump signing the temporary spending bill on December 22, the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment has gained a slight reprieve and medical marijuana users can rest easier for another few weeks. Unfortunately, the future still remains uncertain, especially with Attorney General Jeff Sessions being an outspoken marijuana opponent.
The Fight for Medical Marijuana Remains Ongoing
Twice this year temporary spending bills have been issued to offer some protection for
states with medical marijuana laws. “While we are pleased that these critical protections
will continue, two weeks is not enough certainty for the millions of Americans who rely on medical marijuana for treatment and the businesses who serve them. As Congress works out a long-term funding bill, it must also include these protections. And ultimately, Congress must act to put an end to the cycle of uncertainty and permanently protect state medical marijuana programs—and adult use—from federal interference. TheAmerican people have spoken. It’s past time that Congress catch up,” statedCongressman Earl Blumenauer.
The January 19th deadline now looms for the Rohrabacher-Blumenaueramendment.The future remains uncertain. Starting January 3rd the debate will begin in Congress in preparation for resolving all necessary issues before the deadline.