The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment protects states that have legalized medical marijuana from the Department of Justice by removing funding to pursue state infractions of federal laws. The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment has been approved many times but Jeff Sessions is an opponent to legal medical marijuana and has been making a push to change the vote. Yesterday was critical because the Committee on Rules was deciding whether to even allow the amendment to be voted on in the House of Representatives.
A federal legislative committee could soon determine the fate of several proposals to protect existing and future state marijuana laws, businesses and research.
On Wednesday, The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Rules continued hearing testimony and considering amendments to the Department of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Act 2018 (H.R. 3354), a spending bill set to go before Congress later this month.
Headlining the marijuana-related proposals heard by the committee is the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment, which would bar the Justice Department from using funds to interfere with existing state-enacted medical marijuana regulations.
The amendment formerly known as Rohrabacher-Farr (Rep. Sam Farr has retired) has been implemented in previous years; however, its continued adoption during the current administration has been questioned. Attorney General Jeff Sessions wrote to congressional leaders earlier this year opposing the amendment’s inclusion, stating it inhibits the Justice Department’s ability to enforce the Controlled Substances Act.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-California, wrote an op-ed published in The Washington Post this week calling on Republicans in particular to support his amendment, and spoke at length Tuesday before his colleagues on the House floor.
During testimony Wednesday, Rohrabacher continued his plea to ensure the amendment makes it to the House floor:
“To deny (members of Congress) the right to have a vote, I think, is unconscionable,” Rohrabacher said.
“Let us vote on this issue,” he added.
Politics news site The Hill reported Wednesday, citing unnamed lawmakers, that House GOP leaders planned to block Rohrabacher-Blumenauer from reaching the House floor.
Rohrabacher and co-sponsors Jared Polis, D-Colorado, and Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon, made note that the medical marijuana protections are existing law and that public opinion is in favor of the existing medical cannabis regulations in 46 states.
“It would be a tragic mistake to lose the progress that we made,” Blumenauer said before the committee.
If Rohrabacher-Blumenauer failed to make the Rules Committee’s cut, it would not be a death knell for the amendment, legislative sources tell The Cannabist.
The potential short-term funding deal revealed Wednesday likely would include the existing Rohrabacher-Farr language, extending those protections through year’s end if it is approved. Additionally, the Senate Appropriations Committee authorized the medical marijuana protections amendment for inclusion in the larger spending bill.
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