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. Dave says:

      This, unfortunately, is why we have a 2nd amendment. The ability to resist a govt gone insane and acting against the people. This has become a “shit hole country”. Hard not to notice when it happens in just one year.
      I’m old and genuinely sick but will never be dragged from my home and jailed over this nonsense. I’ve never had interest in guns till now. I won’t be dragged from my home alive. This is a shit hole country.

      • Evening Bud says:

        What is the 2nd Amendment doing to curtail this president’s blatant attempts at totalitarianism? And, who’s gonna drag you out of your house?

      • mexweed says:

        One of the things [reforestationary] reefer can enable you to do better is figure out what words mean based on what they sound like, as in (this case) the blatant violent pro-gun agenda lurking in “shit” = shoot + hit.
        “Shitholes”? That’s what guns do, shoot holes in things/beings.
        What it has to do with Hot Burning Overdose Monoxide Puffpaper $iggerettes? Do you remember that 60’s jingle, “Winston tastes good like a !!!! !!!! (gunshots) $iggerette should”? On a wasterin’ show which children watched, “gun” and “$iggerette” were being musicsickly equated. To run around with a toy gun in hand was equated with eventual puffpaper ad-diction.
        (By the way, even earlier precursor to $iggerette addiction was the sugared cowmilk “formula bottle” substitute for natural breastfeeding. Notice the white+tan color scheme?)
        #1 benefit from cannabis legalization will be when 1.2 billion nicotine tobackgo overdose addicts imitate wise cannabis users (who kicked the joint habit) and convert to a 25-mg single Vapetoke microdose utensil.
        (Reason why desperate $iggerette companies were giving campaign money to Senate candidate Sessions, google “Sessions may hate cannabis but he sure loves Big Tobacco”.)

    2. James page says:

      Why do people who work for the government still get paid when the government shuts down and American people have to pay for it how about they pay for it and we’ll see how many government shutdowns there is

    3. Ohio in the middle says:

      Wouldn’t it be awesome if the whole budget impasse came down to cannabis protections, that would put a big spotlight on it for him to realize what a putz he is.

      • Julian says:

        Reflecting upon the fact most if not all the immigrants who brought dreamers to work in this nation are here because US drug policy allowed our DOJ to topple their Democratically elected leaders, transport and profit from the drugs our DOJ forced them to grow, sell guns to their cartels and their military and generally corrupt governments to perpetual economic disfunction I’d say the shutdown IS about preventing marijuana legalization.

    4. Wouldn’t it be awesome if the whole budget impasse came down to cannabis protections, that would put a big spotlight on it for him to realize what a putz he is.

    5. ?????????? says:

      It’s bad news for me 🙁

    6. Gradius says:

      Wait what? The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment expires because of the shutdown. Doesn’t that amendment just state that the feds shouldn’t interfere in state law? So how much does it actually cost to NOT do something? And why isn’t the DEA affected by the shutdown. Is stopping patients from getting medicine considered an essential service in the US?

    7. Dave says:

      Someone mentioned “other obstacles”
      Here’s one…just try dragging this sick old man from his house and into jail. I refuse to go, they will have to shoot me. The hill I’m ready to die on.

    8. Julian says:


      Here’s what Sessions aggression with mmj patients and the Shutdown mean.

      It’s done! Vermont just signed our nation’s first legislatively enacted state marijuana depenalization of cultivation!

      Im tokin one up right now.

      I dont know whats better at this point; waiting to see how this affects oral arguments in Washington v Sessions on Valentine’s Day or waiting for Trump to take a deposition under oath and throw Sessions under the bus. Aaaaah… Good feelings…

    9. Marijuana crakdown will really affects businesses and users. At the end of the day, the government will only have this money crowd.

    10. Michelle Stewart says:

      I’m a 44 year old female from Florida, diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer. I went through 9 months on 4 different types of chemo at the same time. Thank god medical marijuana is legal in Fl. Medical marijuana has been my saving grace and my doctors are amazed at my results.

      Does anyone know if we have any previous clinical trial documentation and or have the records of the 20 something candidates who have been on medical marijuana since the 70s I believe now there are four remaining living patients on federal cannabis? We need to start documenting for statical purposes as well as determining which strains help certain elements. Research and documentation is KEY. We should rely on our allies like Israel Who has been researching medical marijuana for years. This is a natural plant that is saving and helping people. Our representatives named it “Medical” so treat it as such.

      Our government has a responsibility to its people’s health. Why is Jeff Sessions so against MMJ? God forbid if someone in his family were to fall terminally ill or have a catastrophic event occur to them that enabled good health and had no other option.

      If California and Colorado are doing so well and other states are starting to incorporate the use of adult medical marijuana why can’t the other states just mimic what they’re doing and have a uniform program and offered that the same quality and constancy across the board?

      Change the classification of Cannabis from schedule 1… immediately and give more options to Americans across all healthcare alignments .

      Stop the madness and approve Medical Marijuana across America.

      [Paul Armentano responds: “Does anyone know if we have any previous clinical trial documentation and or have the records of the 20 something candidates who have been on medical marijuana since the 70s I believe now there are four remaining living patients on federal cannabis?” The following study provided a clinical review of these patients health: http://www.medicalcannabis.com/wp-content/uploads/russo2002_chronic_use.pdf.%5D

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