As part of a rush to provide $15.3 billion of disaster relief for areas on the verge of ruins by recent hurricanes Harvey and Irma, Congress has extended the medical marijuana protections known as the Roharabacher-Farr amendment through the beginning of December.
A report from Marijuana Business Daily indicates that that the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which prevents the Justice Department and its cronies at the DEA from using federal tax dollars to prosecute the medical marijuana community, has been given at least a few more months of action.
The protections have been “extended through Dec. 8,” U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon told the news source in an emailed statement.
It was revealed late last week that Rohrabacher-Farr was at risk of being snuffed out of the Fiscal Year 2018 budget. The House Rules Committee deemed the proposal “out of order,” refusing to let it go before the full House for a vote. It was a move that rattled people and businesses connected to the medical marijuana industry, as the elimination of this rider would give U.S. Attorney General Jeff Session all the power he needs to impose his cannabis crackdown.
Several months ago, Sessions sent a letter to Congressional leadership asking them to rescind the medical marijuana protections, calling it “unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the Department to fund particular prosecutions, particularly in the midst of an 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,” Sessions wrote.
While the extension is good news for now, it is still important to understand that the latest extension of the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment does not in any way guarantee it will be included in next year’s federal budget.
But since a Senate committee did give its approval for the measure over the summer, the issue will be negotiated in a joint conference committee – a situation that could end up breathing new life into the Rohrabacher-Amendment for another year.
“Now we must pray that one of the four good guys on that conference committee will promote our marijuana amendment,” said Marijuana Policy Project’s executive director, Rob Kampia, adding that this is “the nightmare scenario we’ve been scrambling to avoid since May.”
For now, medical marijuana is safe.
“We have at least three months of certainty now, but the fight isn’t over,” representatives for Congressman Blumenauer’s office told The Cannabist.