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Federal Medical Marijuana Protections Temporarily Extended, Again

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director February 9, 2018

    Marijuana medicineAfter a brief government shutdown, congressional leadership voted to enact a six-week continuing resolution that maintains present federal spending levels and priorities through March 23, 2018. The resolution extends medical cannabis patient protections imposed by the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment until that date.

    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 will 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 move 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, the government reopens under another CR, the protections are back in place, and we are 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 appropriations 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 is already over a third of the way behind us.

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

    22 responses to “Federal Medical Marijuana Protections Temporarily Extended, Again”

    1. Marty Greene says:

      Governor Casey, when you were running for office you were all for legalization. And now you have disappeared. I am disappointed I voted for you. I thought you were honest obviously you’re just like our loser president. Cannabis is medicine. It heals. I was addicted to opiates for pain. Now all I u I am working on getting off suboxone with cannabis. I REFUSE to go back to that poison big Pharma. PLEASE LEGALIZE CANNABIS TODAY!!!!!!

    2. Matt says:

      Contact your legislators. Thankfully, these delays allow for legalization to become more and more entrenche, but yes, renewal is critical. Thankfully, there are those in Congress like Sen. Booker and others trying to pass bills to keep the Feds out. Sessions is still a critical threat, but good to know we would win in court. Even if he does crack down, remember, all, he has a huge mess on his hands, and he CANNOT take the entire movement down. We have already won, he can only do so much.

      Perhaps even the old curmudgeon knows it.

      M

    3. so what happens on March 23, 2018 when congress isn’t forced to pass a spending bill?

      • Julian says:

        The R-B amendment expires, Sessions bites at the bait in his own reflection and we sue the $#!+ out of the DOJ. (Aside from ongoing federal court progress in Washington v Sessions).

    4. Dain Bramage says:

      This is America with Republicans behind the wheel — a clear and present danger.

      Have you ever accepted a ride from someone, and gotten in the car, only to realize, to your horror, that the driver is a madman who has no regard for your safety or his own?

      That’s kinda what this feels like to me.

      • Julian says:

        Or as Dave Chapelle put it, “This administration in charge is like seeing a crack pipe in the passenger seat of your Uber driver’s car. …lt’s terrafying!”

    5. SCOTT BELCHER says:

      STOP PLAYING AROUND WITH THIS COLE MEMO ONCE AND FOR ALL!.. DO WHAT THE MAJAORITY OF U.S. VOTERS WANT. 84% WANT MEDICAL MARIJUANA IN THIER STATE AND 70% BELIEVE IT SHOULD BE LEGALIZED BY STATE WITH THE REMOVAL FROM THE SCHEDULE SYSTEM. IT IS SAFER THAN TOBACCO AND ALCOHOL! THEY KILL!!!! MARIJUANA DOES NOT! MARIJUANA COULD EFFECTIVELY END THE OPIOD EPIDEMIC!….IT’S PROVEN IT “DOES” HAVE MEDICINAL PURPOSES, WHICH MEANS IT SHOULD “NOT ” BE SCHEDULED, PERIOD!!

    6. Anonymous says:

      Trump must be involved with organized crime, to keep letting the underground pot dealers to carry on when he could legalize it and help their country combat the war on drugs

    7. Julian says:

      The message we can’t wait to send is in the Dallas District where Pete Sessions is going to lose his seat in November. Pete enjoyed no Democratic challenger in 2016, where Hillary Clinton won his district by 6 points. Now there are so many Dems in the primaries there I’ve lost track.

      Pete Sessions is not going to allow a marijuana amendment through the House Rules Committee, and it’s only setting up the Republican party to lose both the House and Senate this year.

      Word gets around in Dallas, and there is a 12-year-old rising star from these parts who is preparing to testify in the most pivotal case of the 21st century involving marijuana legalization challenging Jeff Sessions and marijuana’s scheduling under the Controlled Substances Act. Alexis Bortell is a marijuana refugee in Colorado, and she would like to go home to Texas. She was invited by NORML founder Keith Stroup to NORML Lobby Day. She is filing a preliminary injunction in the CSA against Jeff Sessions and the DEA to travel with her medicine to practice her 1st amendment rights under equal protection of the law.
      I heard her speak when she secretly appeared at the 2015 Cannabis Expo and Convention in Fort Worth. What we have here is a formidable orator and advocate who could melt a jury through a camera lens when given the chance. And she will have that chance this Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14th, during the oral arguments of the closely followed Washington v. Sessions case.

      While it brings me no pleasure that our current Congress is so dysfunctional and treasonous that they can’t even pass a spending bill or avert a threat to default on US credit, the unintended benefit is that the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment keeps getting extended, protecting mmj dispensaries where California is already raking in the revenue.

    8. Julian says:

      As Justin points out, even if the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment were allowed to expire, there is confidence we could win in court to protect mmj dispensaries under the law.

      But there is another benefit of this kick-the-can mmj amendment renewal besides raking in revenue (and therefore Congressional mj representation), and that is that between amendment expiration and a court defense… our tax dollars can’t be used to prosecute federal cases involving medical marijuana charges while the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment remains in effect. That’s a relief to Americans with pending federal cases for growing or distributing mmj, no doubt. But this extension is of particular interest in the pending case of Washington v Sessions, where Jeff Sessions will be dodging subpoenas (of all kinds) well on through the new March 21st deadline.

      Now Alexis Bortell can testify during oral arguments on the 14th without our unlimited tax dollars preventing her… does that mean the Judge will grant her preliminary injunction to testify in a NY Federal Court in person? Is testifying out of venue on camera an infringement of her first amendment rights? In some ways her testifying at all is itself a victory. But we all reserve the Constitutional right to peaceful protest and have a redress of grievances, including the right to petition our representatives in person.

      (continued)

    9. Julian says:

      And when you have a 12-year-old that tried all the “legal” pharmaceutical alternatives to stop the seizures from her epilepsy (save experimental brain surgery which she fortunately rejected), and those “medicines” tried to kill her, there is special attention given to public interest and irreparable harm under the law.

      It’s no big secret anymore that profit is being made by pharmaceutical industries to kill Americans… to prohibit safe and effective whole plant marijuana in order to patent and prescribe addictive and deadly synthetic drugs.

      But even more sinister, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is sworn to uphold the Constitution and protect Americans from all threats both foreign and domestic, personally profited from one of those lethal drugs Alexis was prescribed, depakote, after years of accepting pharmaceutical campaign donations as Senator of Alabama from HealthSouth, CVS and a variety of other corporations who went to court for mislabeling and overprescribing depakote to epileptic patients and patients with dimentia. Depakote has severe side effects that cause lethargy, a vegetable state of immobility and possibly even permanent brain damage. And that’s when it’s prescribed as directed by the FDA. Now, as USAG, Sessions has the responsibility to prosecute dangerous pharmaceutical companies for mislabeling and over-prescribing. But instead he’s protecting these companies from lawsuits while going after a little girl who just wants to bring her life-saving marijuana with her to lobby her representative in our state capitol about how marijuana has kept her seizure free for more than 360 days straight?

      What I wouldn’t do to hear Sessions try and explain that to Alexis Bortell in person and to the American public… This is going to be the sweetest Valentine’s Day ever worth celebrating. Go get’m Alexis!

    10. Maricella says:

      My kids were taken from DCS they claim me to be an unfit mother for allegations of marijuana when I have e a medical card

      • Julian says:

        Maricella,
        DON’T SIGN ANYTHING! Case workers, CPS faculty and their attorneys will try and intimidate you into surrendering custody or even trick you into institutionalizing your children for profit and kickbacks.

        If necessary, appeal your case out of venue to a higher court. Watch out: the Judge might take “campaign donations” during your case. Stay strong, and contact the ACLU or Legal AID if you cant afford a good family lawyer.

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