U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions may be champing at the bit work against the legal cannabis trade, but he and the DEA will have to leave the medical marijuana sector alone – at least until later this year.
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Congress has, once again, approved a temporary rider called the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which was designed to prevent federal funds from being used to prosecute the medical marijuana community. The protections outlined under the budget plan technically stops the Justice Department from launching any type of crackdown on the medicinal cannabis sector, including investigations, raids, etc., as long as they are in compliance with their respective state laws.
The amendment, which has been renewed by Congress every year since it was first passed back in 2014, simply states that none of the money made available to the Department of Justice can be used to “prevent any [states] from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”
When the amendment was first passed, there was some confusion about exactly what it meant: the Justice Department argued that Rohrabacher-Farr only prevented federal law enforcers from lashing out against legal states, while the lawmakers responsible for drafting the measure said it was a defense for the medical marijuana sector as a whole.
In the end, a federal court ruled that the DOJ must refrain from prosecuting medical marijuana cases.
Unfortunately, the amendment does not offer any protections for those connected to the recreational side of the cannabis trade. This snag wasn’t much of a problem during the Obama administration, but advocates in the eight states and the District of Columbia that have brought pot prohibition to a screeching halt are worried that without something definitive in place to keep Trump’s Justice Department from unleashing an all out war against the cannabis industry, there could be trouble.
It is for that reason that some federal lawmakers, specifically members of the newly formed Cannabis Caucus, believe it is time for Congress to get serious about passing safeguards of a more permanent nature.
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“This annual challenge must end. We need permanent protections for state-legal medical marijuana programs, as well as adult-use,” Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon told The Denver Channel.
The Rohrabacher-Farr protections will remain effective until September 2017.