Medical marijuana patients and industry members could lose their protection against federal prosecution.
Last night, the medical marijuana community received disappointing news. The House Committee on Rules rejected a chance to uphold the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment (formerly Rohrabacher-Farr).
This amendment stands as the best defense patients and medical marijuana industry members have against federal intervention. Rohrabacher-Blumenauer prevents the Department of Justice (DOJ) from targeting medical marijuana businesses that are operating in accordance with state law.
The decision by the House Committee on Rules sent shockwaves throughout the marijuana industry. The medical marijuana advocacy group, Americans for Safe Access (ASA), issued the following statement in response:
“We are deeply disappointed that the House Rules Committee did not include the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, said Steph Sherer, Americans for Safe Access Executive Director. “Despite bipartisan support and hundreds of millions of Americans agreeing that cannabis should be available as medicine, the members of the Rules committee decided to put partisan politics before patients’ needs. With 91 individuals dying a day from the opioid crisis, and medical cannabis states seeing a nearly 25% decline in opioid overdoses, Justice Department resources would be better spent on other department priorities rather than interfering in legal state-run medical cannabis programs. The failure of the Rules Committee to include protections for patients in their bill only amplifies the need for permanent legislation like the CARERS Act. The Conference Committee must do its job and ensure that protections for medical cannabis patients make it to the President’s desk.”
ASA’s view was shared by many including the authors of the amendment. In a statement released last night, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, (R-California), and Rep. Earl Blumenauer, (D-Oregon) said the House committees’ decision “goes against the will of the American people” and “is putting at risk the millions of patients who rely on medical marijuana.”
“Our fight to protect medical marijuana patients is far from over,” the statement continued. “The marijuana reform movement is large and growing. This bad decision by the House Rules Committee is an affront to the 46 states and the District of Columbia that have legalized use and distribution of some form of medical marijuana. These programs serve millions of Americans.”
“This setback, however, is not the final word. As House and Senate leadership negotiate a long-term funding bill, we will fight to maintain current protections.”
The amendment has to be approved with every congressional budget since Rohrabacher-Blumenauer actually defunds the DOJ from using resources to target valid medical marijuana businesses. Although the House has declined to include the amendment, the Senate Appropriations Committee did approve it in July. Once the House version of the spending bill is finalized it will go back to the Senate for reconciliation. Rohrabacher-Blumenauer could still be included in the final version.