Despite reports coming from the anti-drug group Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), suggesting that the federal medical marijuana protections known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment had been eliminated from a Congressional bill, nothing could be further from the truth.
On Wednesday, SAM organizers approached the media with news indicating that the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment was no longer part of the “Commerce, Justice, Science” appropriations bill.
In a press release, the group said that after providing the committee with testimony against the rider, the language was removed from key legislation that would, once again, allow the Department of Justice to investigate, raid and prosecute the medical marijuana community.
🚨🚨BREAKING: Congress strips provision barring DOJ from spending money to enforce pot laws. This is a big change. https://t.co/HlUjJvdYJo— Kevin Sabet (@KevinSabet) June 28, 2017
According to SAM president Kevin Sabet, who once served as President Obama’s senior advisor at the Office of National Drug Control Policy, it is in the best interest of people involved with the cannabis industry to cut their losses and get out now.
"If I were an investor, I would sell my marijuana stocks short," Sabet told MERRY JANE in a statement. "The marijuana industry has lost in every state in which they were pushing legislation in 2017, the industry's largest lobbying group is losing its bank account, and now they are losing protection that has helped them thrive despite marijuana's illegal status.”
However, Sabet and his misguided missionaries at SAM apparently have no functional understanding of the legislative grind. The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which has been linked a federal spending bill for the past few years, has never been included in the guts of the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) Subcommittee Appropriations bill.
The language of the medical marijuana protections has always been added later.
Congressmen Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and Dana Rohrabacher of California, both of which had a heavy hand in the passing of the amendment, emerged yesterday to put the those folks concerned about the sanctity of medical marijuana in the United States at ease.
“The folks at SAM clearly don’t understand the legislative process,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement. “Our amendment has never been in the CJS Subcommittee’s bill. There is no news here.”
SAM's complete misrepresentation of the legislative process is entirely consistent with their repeated falsehoods about marijuana ....— Earl Blumenauer (@repblumenauer) June 29, 2017
However, the situation could change in the next few months. That’s because the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment is only a temporary measure that must be renewed every year in order to remain active. This issue comes up for debate again in September.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was working to persuade Congressional leadership not to include the medical marijuana protections in the next spending bill. There is speculation that the removal of these protections might be all that Sessions needs to launch a full-blown attach against legal marijuana.
“I believe it would be 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,” Sessions wrote. “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.”
Although there is plenty of concern that the marijuana movement is at risk of taking several steps back at the hands of Trump’s Justice Department, no definitive policy reversals have been made.
Representatives Blumenauer and Rohrabacher feel confident the issue is on the right track.
“We are exactly where we thought we would be in the legislative process and look forward to amending the underlying bill once again this year to make sure medical marijuana programs, and the patients who rely on them, are protected,” the lawmakers said. “Voters in states across the country have acted to legalize medical marijuana. Congress should not act against the will of the people who elected us.”