The drumbeat for cannabis regulation and legalization is getting louder and louder across the nation. In Congress, one of the main federal legal protections, the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, passed an important committee vote. And momentum is growing in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Missouri. Find out more in our weekly marijuana legislative roundup.
On Thursday, the House Appropriations Committee voted to include protections on medical marijuana in the 2019 Department of Justice funding bill. The provision, known as Rohrabacher-Blumenauer (formerly Rohrabacher-Farr), prohibits the use of federal funds to prevent states from implementing medical cannabis legalization.
The measure has been included in every federal budget bill since 2014, but this represents the first time the amendment has been attached directly to a DOJ funding bill. The move, which received bipartisan support on the Committee, comes in response to recent efforts by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to tighten federal enforcement of cannabis prohibition. In a letter to Congress last summer, Sessions urged lawmakers not to renew Rohrabacher-Blumenauer, a request which Congress has thus far ignored.
On Thursday, the Ohio Ballot Board certified a proposed ballot question on a constitutional amendment to legalize recreational marijuana in the state. The measure, which was approved by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine earlier this month, would allow adults 21 and older to grow, possess, consume, sell, and share cannabis.
The legislature would have authority to enact laws regarding public consumption and safety, and landlords and employers would be allowed to restrict marijuana activities on their property. The move paves the way for supporters to begin collecting the over 300,000 signatures needed to place the issue on the ballot in 2019.
On Monday, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced that eight universities in the state would be given permission to study the safety and efficacy of medical marijuana to treat several ailments. The eight schools include: Drexel University College of Medicine, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, Temple University Lewis Katz School of Medicine, Penn State College of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Thomas Jefferson University Sidney Kimmel Medical College, and University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The effort would be one of the most ambitious projects of its kind in the nation, though further details have yet to be released.
Last week, multiple bills designed to preempt a ballot referendum on medical marijuana in Missouri died as the 2018 legislative session ended. At least four proposals made the deadline for gathering signatures to make the ballot this year, though the signatures still need to be verified. The measures range from medical marijuana access for veterans to recreational cannabis legalization.