WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Legislators have been passing annual spending money since 2014 protecting citizens who engage in the state-sanctioned use and dispensing of medical marijuana from prosecution by the Department of Justice.
- On Wednesday, a congressional committee debated but missed the opportunity to vote on an amendment to protect state marijuana laws from federal intervention.
- As Congress works to end a federal government shutdown that began at midnight on Friday, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is trying to include marijuana into the process.
A marijuana amendment states that federal resources cannot be used to interfere with states implementing their own laws that authorize the use, possession distribution, or cultivation of medical marijuana. This amendment was made because even though marijuana is legal in some states, it is still federally illegal so any marijuana business or consumer can still be charged.
The federal government shut down at Friday midnight. This means when the budget expired, the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer protections are no longer in effect.
Sen. Paul has filed two comprehensive marijuana amendments that he wants to be part of a deal to reopen the government.
It is not transparent if either of the senator’s amendments will be considered and voted on as part of a deal to re-open the federal government.
Medical marijuana patients and providers were put at greater risk because an existing protection preventing the Justice Department from undermining medical marijuana laws is no longer in effect.
If Congress passes another bill to fund the government, the medical marijuana protections will return until whatever date to which the legislation continues spending levels. Unless Sen. Paul’s amendment is adopted, people complying with broader full-scale marijuana legalization laws will remain at risk since marijuana is still federally illegal.
On Wednesday, House leaders blocked Colorado Rep. Jared Polis’ amendment to prevent federal interference in state marijuana laws from federal interference from being considered on the floor.
There may be a shutdown but marijuana legalization was happening at the same time on Capitol Hill. Older marijuana-related bills have also been getting traction in January while Congress focused on the budget.
Source: Marijuana Moment