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Congress Expected to Keep Protections for Medical Marijuana States

DOJ Cannabis

Next month the federal spending bill must be agreed upon, and it appears that Congress is likely to keep protections for state medical marijuana laws in place. For the last three years, these protections have been in place, prohibiting the Justice Department from using federal funds to carry out its own laws. Congress must renew the amendment to keep the protections in place.

The amendment was introduced by Representative Dana Rohrabacher and Earl Blumenauer, according to The Washington Post. Some fear that Attorney General Jeff Sessions may pull a last-minute sabotage campaign to undo these protections.

In June, Sessions wrote a letter to Congress saying that the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment restricts the DOJ from enforcing the Controlled Substances Act. In the letter, Sessions wrote, “I believe it would be unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the Department to fund particular prosecutions, particularly in the midst of a historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime. The Department must be in a position to use all laws available to combat the transnational drug organizations and dangerous drug traffickers who threaten American lives.”

The bad news for Sessions is that Congress has more pro-marijuana lawmakers now than ever. Each time the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer has been up for approval in the House, its approval numbers have increased. In July, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed protections to maintain protection for state medical marijuana programs.

Blumenauer said, “This is the most sympathetic Congress we’ve ever had to issues of cannabis.”

Justin Strekal of NORML said, “I am cautiously optimistic that we are going to retain the protections.”

The 2013 Cole Memo warned all 50 U.S. attorneys not to interfere with legalization efforts as long as marijuana wasn’t going across state lines and wasn’t made available to minors.

Should Sessions choose to intervene, he could be stern and require asset forfeiture, money seizure and property seizure for anyone involved in the recreational marijuana industry. The same could happen if he chooses to fight hard against upholding the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment.

President Trump said in October 2015 during a Nevada campaign rally, that, “The marijuana thing is such a big thing. I think medical should happen, right? Don’t we agree? I think so. And then I really believe we should leave it up to the states.”

Blumenauer said, “In the nine states where both Donald Trump and marijuana were on the ballot, marijuana got a lot more votes than Trump.”