Federal Medical Cannabis Protections Extended Through December

The key legislation was included in a larger funding deal passed Sept. 8.

September 15, 2017
Brian MacIver

After removing the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment from a draft of the House appropriations bill earlier last week, Congress eased nervousness over a potential immediate federal crackdown on the medical cannabis industry by extending the key industry protection through Dec. 8 as part of a bill extending the federal debt ceiling.

The provision, which prevents the Department of Justice from interfering with state medical marijuana laws, was included in a broader legislative package passed by Congress on Sept. 8 to fund the government for the next three months and provide disaster relief for Hurricane Harvey victims.

In a joint statement, Representatives Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), co-chairs of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, said, “While this action provides a measure of certainty for the millions of medical marijuana patients and the clinics and business that support them, much more needs to be done.”

“More than 95 percent of Americans now have state-legal access to some form of medical marijuana. The American people have spoken, and Congress needs to hear them. Ultimately, we need permanent protections for state-legal medical marijuana programs, as well as adult-use. Prohibition is a failed policy resulting in nothing more than wasted resources and lives,” the Congressmen said.

The inclusion of the provision in this three-month spending package does not reverse it from being removed from the House appropriations bill. Members of House and Senate will still have to fight to include the amendment in the final version of the 2018 Appropriations bill.