You might remember that, back in May, Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a letter to Senators requesting that they not renew the Rohrbacher-Farr Amendment.
The amendment is a key protection for states that have legalized medical marijuana, preventing the Department of Justice from using federal funds to pursue legal action for federal laws against cannabis in the 29 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam, all of which have voted to legalize MMJ.
More precisely, the amendment is part of the federal budget and has been included every year since it was introduced in 2014. Last year in August, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that the amendment bars the federal government from taking legal action against any person involved in medical marijuana-related activity unless there is clear evidence that they’re violating state law.
“It would be unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the Department to fund particular prosecutions,” Sessions chided in his May letter, “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.”
Well, in May, Senators Dana Rohrbacher (R-California), and Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) introduced similar language to the omnibus congressional spending bill, which protects people in states that have legalized MMJ. The omnibus bill funds the government through September while Senate deliberates the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2018. The appropriations committee decided to keep similar language in the CJS appropriations bill for 2018, which will now move to the full Senate for deliberation.
In short, everything is in place for next year’s budget to include a clause that will keep the DoJ, and notoriously anti-marijuana AG Sessions, from pursuing legal action in states that have legalized medical marijuana. In response to the vote, Blumenauer tweeted: “No surprise! This effort has overwhelming bipartisan support. Now, it’s time for the House act.” Indeed, Mr. Senator.