Federal protections for state medical marijuana set to expire without congressional vote

Federal protections for state medical marijuana set to expire without congressional vote

In Top Stories by MediReview StaffLeave a Comment

After U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions cast uncertainty on Massachusetts’ nascent recreational marijuana industry, the state’s medical marijuana businesses are warily eyeing another federal action. Currently, the U.S. Department of Justice is not allowed to spend any federal money preventing states from implementing their own medical marijuana laws. That is the result of a congressional amendment, the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, which first passed in 2014 and has since been reauthorized. The amendment is set to expire Jan. 19 unless Congress votes to reauthorize it again. "It is very important, particularly for medical marijuana, to give that clear protection there won’t be federal funds used on (prosecuting) it," said Erik Williams, founding partner of Will and Way Cannabis Consulting, which advises cannabis businesses in states with medical and recreational marijuana. Sessions recently repealed Obama-era guidelines, known as the Cole memo, that said the Justice Department would not prosecute the use or sale of recreational marijuana in states where it is legal, as long as certain conditions are met. Sessions instead left it up to U.S. attorneys in each district to decide whether to prosecute marijuana crimes in states like Massachusetts. Sessions could not touch medical marijuana, which is legal in 29 states including Massachusetts, because of the congressional amendment. Marijuana policy experts say Sessions’ move makes it even more important to the marijuana industry that the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment be extended. "It put us back on alert that this administration is unpredictable," said Nichole Snow, executive director of the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance, which represents medical marijuana patients. "The action of the administration, the unpredictability, causes us to want to put in permanent protections." The Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment is part of the current budget bill. It could be included either in a future spending bill or in a continuing resolution if Congress cannot […]

Leave a Comment