High Anxiety: Federal Safeguard of MMJ Programs Needs Budget Extension

Jeff Sessions letter to Congress

America’s medical marijuana industry is currently estimated to be worth $5.3 billion, benefits nearly 2 million patients in 30 states, and is in serious jeopardy of losing its protected status if the previous federal budget is not extended by Friday.

Within the existing budget, the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment – originally referred to as the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment – has shielded medical marijuana states and their patients from federal prosecution since 2014.

An annual obstacle, this is a potential problem faced every year that has usually been resolved at the final hour, but concerns are especially high under Sessions. As the existing federal budget is set to expire this Friday, more than a few medical marijuana states, medical marijuana businesses, and congressional leaders are busy wringing their hands with an elevated sense of anxiety.

While most elected officials are concerned with maintaining America’s credit rating and keeping the federal government up and running, others worry that Congress will fail to reach a deal to keep the old budget in place. A problem for everyone, this is particularly worrisome for states benefiting from the protection provided by the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment.

Provided Congress does their job and passes a continuing resolution this Friday, and avoids a federal shutdown of the U.S. government, they’ll also be providing temporary protection for our medical marijuana states — keeping the Department of Justice from spending any federal funds to interfere in states that have legalized medicinal cannabis.

Less than helpful in states that have legalized recreational consumption, the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment doesn’t protect states that have passed adult-use legislation.