On July 27th, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) successfully offered and passed the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment in the Senate Appropriations Committee to protect lawful medical marijuana programs from the Department of Justice.
“With the troubling rhetoric coming from Jeff Sessions and his Justice Department, it is more crucial than ever that Congress protects state approved medical marijuana programs and the patients that benefit from them,” said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri, “Attorney General Sessions thinks that medical marijuana patients are no better than members of illegal drug cartels, it is imperative that our elected officials remove any potential bite from Sessions’ bark by taking away his ability to use the full force of the federal government to go against the will of over 90% of American citizens who support medical marijuana access and, in the process, endangering the well-being of millions of medical marijuana patients.”
Initially enacted by Congress in 2014, the amendment maintains that federal funds cannot be used to prevent states from “implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.” Last August, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that the language bars the federal government from taking legal action against any individual involved in medical marijuana-related activity absent evidence that the defendant is in clear violation of state law.
Forty-six states now recognize the therapeutic use of either cannabis or cannabidiol derived products.
Eight states regulate the adult use, production, and sale of marijuana. Non-medical, retail marijuana businesses operating in these states are not protected by these amendments and still remain vulnerable to federal interference or prosecution. In February, then-White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer publicly said that the administration was considering engaging in “greater enforcement” of federal anti-marijuana laws in these jurisdictions.