A key federal law that prohibits the Department of Justice from using federal funds to prosecute medical marijuana companies looks likely to remain in place under a new federal budget deal reportedly reached Wednesday among Congressional leaders.
However, the spending deal has yet to be passed by Congress, which has a Friday deadline before the federal government shuts down.
The Washington Post reported that the deal is “uncertain.”
Even if it is approved, the deal would last only through September.
The amendment, which was first passed by Congress more than three years ago as the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, blocks the DOJ and therefore the Drug Enforcement Administration from using federal funds to prevent states and territories “from implementing their own laws” on MMJ.
The law specifically protects medical marijuana laws – and, by extension, MMJ businesses – in 46 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories of Guam and Puerto Rico.
The only four states that aren’t protected are Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota – none of which have yet approved any functional MMJ industries. (There are several states that allow for possession of CBD but don’t permit production or sales.)
Although it’s been law since December 2014, the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment has had to be renewed repeatedly by Congress, since it’s technically only an amendment to the budget, which is supposed to be rewritten annually.
So far, the amendment has been renewed eight times. If the budget deal goes through before the Friday deadline, it will be the amendment’s ninth renewal.
The amendment does not protect recreational marijuana laws or businesses, which could be targeted by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions or his U.S. attorneys at any time.
John Schroyer can be reached at [email protected]