Fate of marijuana business protection uncertain as government shutdown looms

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The only current federal law protecting medical marijuana businesses from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions could expire Friday evening if Congress doesn’t reach an agreement on the national budget, which is set to expire at midnight eastern time.

The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment, which prohibits the Department of Justice from using federal funds to interfere with state MMJ laws, is tied to the life of the federal budget.

It was first passed in 2014 (the measure was originally called Rohrabacher-Farr) and then renewed in 2015, before the Republican-controlled Congress began passing what are known as continuing resolutions instead of a new, updated budget.

The House approved another temporary spending bill on Thursday to keep the federal government open until Feb. 16, but it was unclear Friday afternoon if the Senate would follow suit.

If a spending deal is not reached, that means the amendment could be set aside in coming weeks as Congress fights to reach a new budget agreement. And if that happens, Sessions will be free of the restrictions the amendment places on the DOJ; he lobbied Congress last year to kill the amendment.


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The amendment does not protect recreational marijuana businesses, though a separate amendment called McClintock-Polis to protect all state-licensed MJ companies from the DOJ was shot down in a House committee earlier this week, according to The Cannabist.

Emailed requests for comment to the offices of U.S. Reps. Dana Rohrabacher and Earl Blumenauer, the two main sponsors of the amendment, were not immediately returned Friday afternoon.

This story is developing and will be updated.


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