What The Government Shutdown Means For Marijuana

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director January 20, 2018

    Not much.

    Temporary medical cannabis patient protections that have been imposed by the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment have now expired with the rest of government spending.

    The amendment, which has been in place since 2014, 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.”

    Without these protections, medical cannabis cultivators and dispensaries exist with a greater threat than normal of federal enforcement of national prohibition, yet the certainty that these protections would be honored have been in doubt throughout the entire Trump administration.

    When President Trump signed the first Continuing Resolution in 2017, he issued a signing statement regarding the amendment:

    “Division B, section 537 provides that the Department of Justice may not use any funds to prevent implementation of medical marijuana laws by various States and territories. I will treat this provision consistently with my constitutional responsibility to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

    Essentially stating that his administration believes they can ignore these protections if they do not view them to be Constitutional.

    Under this mentality, Attorney General Jeff Sessions could have moved in to shut down medical marijuana facilities at any point. Should Sessions crackdown, we are confident that we would win a court challenge, given previous rulings on this very question. However, it would be a reactive exercise after an enforcement action, and during that process, the patients who relied on a supply chain to get them their medication would not have a lawful means to do so.

    So now, if the government reopens under another CR, then the protections will go back into place and we will be right back where we were in an uneasy détente. The threat of Sessions on one side and medical patients in a state-lawful system trying to alleviate their suffering.

    Further, Congressional leadership must reauthorize this language as part of the forthcoming budget in order for the provisions to stay in effect in any new spending deal. Last July, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) offered identical language before the Senate Appropriations Committee, which approved it. However, House Rules Committee Chair Peter Sessions (R-TX) has refused to allow House members to vote on similar language. The provision will now be considered by House and Senate leadership when the two chambers’ appropriations bills are reconciled, should Congress ever set a FY18 budget, of which we are already three and a half months in.

    Click here to send a message to your lawmakers and tell them to retain these protections.

    40 responses to “What The Government Shutdown Means For Marijuana”

    1. Matt says:

      Sigh, the madness continues. Send your messages….have to run, and typing is sluggish, but a good article on Vermont:


      • Evening Bud says:


        Thanks for the link. It’s amazing that some of them still haven’t figured out that to legalize pot, but now allow for its sale, is counter-productive. Vestiges of prohibitionist minds.

    2. Matt says:

      and remember something else. Another advantage we have is that even if Sessions cracks down, he has an ENORMOUS amount of ground to cover, and the lack of resources to do so. Amongst other obstacles. Later


    3. Julian says:

      Here is how I put it to Dain Bramage on the last blog;

      In attempt to answer your question about Sessions “will he?” -crackdown on dispensaries, I think yes… IF… he could authorize the asset forfeitures with some cooperative US attorneys and judges, which is where I believe he and the DEA will experience some resistance.

      While it is true the government shutdown has officially expired the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, and Sessions rescinded the Cole memos, keep in mind the memos were rescinded weeks ago and crackdowns on responsible adult dispensaries have been perfectly legal and we havnt seen that yet.

      What is more likely a Sessions’ priority is to use our hard earned tax dollars to hire more defense attorneys and prosecutors in pivitol cases like Washington v. Sessions where the Constitutionality of the entire scheduling of marijuana has been exposed. There are oral arguments scheduled for Valentine’s Day and 12-year-old Alexis Bortell is a powerful, natural orator who will make a formidable witness. She’ll melt the jury.

      And while the federal government may or may not be running Monday morning, (no thanks to the Koch brothers who benefit from shutdowns and wish to stumble federal hemp legalization, who I suspect are pulling strings on the Trumpuppet)… I’ll tell you what will be operating:

      1). State governments like Vermont when Governor Scott will sign our nation’s first legislatively enacted marijuana cultivation depenalization, just in time to use as evidence in Federal Court.

      2). The Special Councel; Mueller’s team is funded indefinitely by law. Trump’s deposition is underway… and Sessions is on the $#!+list.

      Let’s just say that US attorneys know their boss has his hands full of $#!+ and we all have better things to do than issue orders and search warrants to legal thieves.

      • Dain Bramage says:

        I think we can count on Trump to initiate a terrorist attack against the United States, right around the time of the 2018 election. He can see the Blue Wave coming. He will act to stop it.

        We can also count on Trump’s “Russian-American cyber-security unit” (yes, Trump really said that) to rig the election for the Republicans.

        Trump will not give up power voluntarily.

        • Julian says:

          I’m sure Trump and his bad billionaire villains such as the Kochs and Mercers are working vigorously to make that happen. But keep in mind the ACLU will take the DHS to courts still favourable to our Bill of Rights, unnappointed by Trump.

          Even here in Texas, our low THC mmj laws dont even have thefederprotectionhttp://www.thecannabist.co/2018/01/22/texas-cannabis-crops-medical-marijuana-patients/9724 language like “recommends” instead of “prescribes” so doctors dont have to worry about losing their license. Our mmj program is way overpriced… Oklahoma is about to legalize mmj this June with a $100 app fee. With DPS foxes in charge of the hen house here in Texas the mmj dispensary app fee is $550,000 after we got it down from $1.2 million!!

          All this, one would expect doctors and patients to be running scared from Sessions’ recent federal threats. But that’s not what’s happening;


          “DPS spokesman Tom Vinger said the potential new federal stance regarding federal marijuana prosecutions hasn’t prompted any changes to how his agency is regulating the Texas CBD rollout.”

        • Evening Bud says:


          I’m slightly worried that Drumpf may try that–create a terrorist incident. I believe that if we can call some of the networks–and posit that possibility–perhaps we can nip any such notions in the bud.

          • Julian says:


            Trump IS a terrorist incident.

            But so is this Republican Congress; they just gave Trump a private army with no Congressional oversight.

            Were legalizing marijuana just in time to survive the trauma. Here’s to counting down till Trump speaks under oath.

    4. randall sprayberry says:

      Biggest uphill battle is and will be our legislature’s. They vote for and against whatever it may be on how THEY feel about it instead of there constituents.

    5. Julian says:

      Knowing that “nothing much” meant “no crackdown ,” as Justin wrote it… allow me to add the alternative connotation of “nothing much.”:

      Nothing much in regards to a crackdown…
      Nothing much like yards to a touchdown…
      Nothing much until Jeff Sessions turns brown
      When he lights up the fuse in our Weed Town

      Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions’ actions to rescind the Cole Memorandums and let the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment expire resulted in a catalyst voter decision and activist wave to reform whole plant marijuana law.

      I now have an honorably discharged veteran ready to testify in a Health Committee during next year’s 2019 legislative session in Texas. I have volunteers for candidates to the Federal 21st district Representative of Texas calling me to endorse them on marijuana policy.

      We are past the pivoting point.

      • Evening Bud says:

        “I now have an honorably discharged veteran ready to testify in a Health Committee during next year’s 2019 legislative session in Texas. I have volunteers for candidates to the Federal 21st district Representative of Texas calling me to endorse them on marijuana policy.”

        Wow, get down, Julian! A warrior for the cause!

    6. gumbojoe says:

      I will be like the creator of Dilbert, and jump off the Trump train.

    7. Several senators might refuse to sign the budget, unless protections for the cannabis industry are included. This could be a good thing.

    8. Dain Bramage says:

      So Sessions wants to crackdown, he is able to crackdown, and nobody can stop him from cracking down, but… he hasn’t. Yet. For some reason.

      That’s not much comfort. Should I buy a lucky rabbit’s foot?

    9. Ric says:

      In this day and age it is time to eliminate the outdated and archaic laws banning marijuana use by responsible adults. We need to reassess these laws so we can research the benefits of this plant. It may hold a cure for the opiate epidemic as well as many other problems affecting our society. I believe that the positives outweigh the negatives completely. Along with the health benefits the monetary benefits will also benefit this great nation.

      • fireweed says:

        Yes, we need legalization for public health and safety. black market dealers have no accountability and often little or no expertise on what makes good weed and how to keep good weed good. I’ve gotten too many bags that look good at first glance but have been improperly cured or stored. Have spent too much money on “buy it sight unseen” weed where the thc has been degraded and replaced with mold then I end up fighting bronchitis for a week after smoking this shit.

        • fireweed says:

          recently asked my dealer to let me know when he had a certain strain that I like and ended up spending $80 on shit that not only has no thc left but is unsmokeable. Sick of this “mystery bag” nonsense.

          • Julian says:

            I blame such negligent, self-depricating behavior on poor upbringing and the lack of basic civics in the core curriculum.

    10. Julian says:

      Another interesting fun fact that still makes me chuckle; The DEA has about 1 agent on world-wide payroll for every 10,000 people in California alone.

      The only thing cracking down here is prohibition. See ya in court, Chuck!