On Thursday, the powerful U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies passed a key spending bill that includes a provision to protect state-legal medical marijuana from federal law enforcement action. The measure, based on the so-called “Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment” prohibits funds appropriated in the bill from being used to prevent states from implementing the legalization of marijuana production, distribution, and sale for medical purposes, thereby effectively shielding both patients and businesses from prosecution under the Controlled Substances Act. Rohrabacher-Blumenauer (originally Rohrabacher-Farr) was first passed in 2014 and has been included in every federal budget since.
Related Story: Texans Urging Republicans To Expand Medical Marijuana Access
However, if this bill were to become law, it would represent the first time that the provision has specifically been included in an appropriations bill for the Department of Justice. The corresponding subcommittee in the House of Representatives recently passed its appropriations bill with the same provision and this considered “must-pass” legislation, so it is likely that medical marijuana will continue to be shielded from the Department of Justice and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is an outspoken critic of marijuana legalization efforts.
On Monday, New York Health Commissioner Howard Zucker announced that the state will create rules allowing patients that have been prescribed opioid painkillers to enroll in the state’s medical marijuana program. While the details have yet to be worked out, the move is designed to mitigate the opioid crisis in the state, which is considered to have a relatively restrictive medical cannabis system. Other states are considering similar legislation, though none have yet been implemented.
On Friday, the Michigan Medical Marijuana Licensing Board announced that it will delay approval for 17 medical marijuana business licenses scheduled to be announced that day. The Board said it will address the status of the licenses at its next meeting on July 12. Michigan has not issued any medical cannabis licenses under new regulations implemented last year, while more than 700 businesses have applied for prequalification or licenses.
On Wednesday, Alaska Department of Revenue head Ken Alper announced that the agency was considering a new tax category for recreational cannabis cultivators to make legal marijuana more competitive with prices on the state’s black market. Alaska currently levies a tax of $50 per ounce of marijuana sold to retailers. He did not provide any additional details on the proposal.