How Trump Government Shutdown Threat Could Affect Marijuana | Marijuana

How Trump Government Shutdown Threat Could Affect Marijuana

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President Donald Trump is threatening to shut down the government if Democrats refuse billions of dollars in funding for a border wall — but the consequences of that action would extend far beyond border security.

If the president makes good on his promise to withhold his signature from essential appropriations bills this time, that could inadvertently leave the legal marijuana industry vulnerable to federal drug enforcement actions. A spending bill rider that has protected state medical cannabis programs from federal intervention since 2014 would expire, while the Justice Department and prosecutors would generally remain operational.

That’s because the Department of Justice has a contingency plan in place in the event of a government shutdown, and it exempts many employees, including U.S. attorneys and those who work for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), from furlough.

“Criminal litigation will continue without interruption as an activity essential to the safety of human life and the protection of property,” the Justice Department explains in its contingency plan. U.S. attorneys are protected because they’re presidentially appointed and “are needed to address ongoing criminal matters and civil matters of urgency throughout the nation.”

“All agents in DEA field organizations are excepted from furlough because they support active counternarcotics investigations,” the document says.

The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment would not be exempted, though. The legislation — which bars the Justice Department from using federal funds to interfere with state medical cannabis laws — is part of the the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) appropriations bill. While five out of the 12 annual appropriation bills for Fiscal Year 2019 have already been signed into law by the president, the CJS bill is yet to receive House of Senate floor votes.

Typically, the deadline to get appropriations passed is the end of the preceding fiscal year, September 30. But rather than hold a vote or allow federal departments to lose funding, lawmakers have passed a series of continuing resolutions throughout 2018, providing temporary funding and pushing back the deadline. The most recent two-week continuing resolution passed on December 7, so the new deadline is December 21.

If lawmakers don’t pass, or President Trump doesn’t sign, either a full-year or temporary extension of funding by then, the medical cannabis rider will expire, but federal drug enforcement capabilities will not. And that would leave medical marijuana patients and the businesses that serve them in a dicey position.

Similar concerns about the prospect of federal marijuana enforcement have been repeatedly raised under the Trump administration. In January 2018, things seemed especially precarious, as the president’s threat of a government shutdown came weeks after then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded an Obama-era memo that provided guidance on federal cannabis enforcement practices.

That decision stoked fears that a shutdown would empower the Justice Department to act on the attorney general’s vehement opposition to marijuana reform. But after less than three days, a continuing resolution passed and state-legal marijuana activities continued unimpeded.

This time around, as the deadline approaches, the Justice Department head is Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, who had served as Sessions’ chief of staff. Whitaker has said he sympathizes with medical cannabis patients, but he’s also criticized the Obama administration for its marijuana enforcement policies.

There’s no telling at this point whether Whitaker, the DEA or federal prosecutors would take advantage of broad exemptions from furlough and crack down on legal medical marijuana states in the event of a shutdown. But as always, the possibility puts the cannabis industry in an uncomfortable position.

This article has been republished from Marijuana Moment under a content syndication agreement. Read the original article here.

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9 Comments

  1. A fed gov crack down on the Cannabis community would unfortunately leave America quite some more divided than we are already. During any renewed push for the old enslavement of Cannabis prohibition the stable citizen based center of the country would then crack worse than the liberty bell, it would leave our Republic hollow and broken.
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    Strength in unity, peace through strength.

  2. Deception is the art of “The Deceiver”.
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    Every statement the President has made regarding Cannabis ‘so far’ has been supportive of some degree of responsible Cannabis freedom. If or when the President steps into an active Cannabis legalization stance, I believe America will make great strides forward in unity and therefore in strength.
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    For only those strong in courage and in capability can secure peace [Or Freedom]. And significantly, only the Truth will secure wholeness within. President, citizen, commenter too.

  3. Socialist and Fascist world views are embodiments of mankind’s recurring poor choices for enslavement. Our American Constitution and American founding principles are the direct antithesis of any such coercions and aggressions.
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    Elected Officials in our government who endeavor for the well being of our citizens are capable of understanding Truth.
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    Parties have divided us, so have genders, so have religions and races. Yet when we unite around the principles of freedom and peace – otherwise said “non coercion and non aggression” – we gain the strength for success as the principled leaders of humanity. Our security services are the best in history and can only get better this Way. “We are the champions” type of thing.
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    It’s time to legalize the sacred healing herb Cannabis. Any President and any Legislator or Law Officer who gets it done… will be restoring our unity, our Constitutional rights and our dignity as a whole society.

  4. I might like my reefer but being an Army Brat & 2 times a Vietnam War Widow I understand the importance of the Wall. Being over 70 I used in the ‘60’s going to Univ. of Az, Tucson but right now BUILD THAT WALL! I refuse to support illegal aliens anymore. You want to get here do I it LEGALLY! Me? I’m Native American, tribe of Winnebago! So don’t even try to go there! My ancestors were already here for centuries before even the Knights Templar showed up & yes there’s evidence! I just will pray that our pot laws will be left alone & intact cause if the Feds try anything I think there would be a revolt while energies need to be used elsewhere! & Trump is a excellent President, he’s doing what I & others who voted for Trump is doing. Bringing home bigger paychecks aren’t you or are you living off of your mommy & Daddy? Hae you ever served your country? You want socialism? Then move to Venezuela! The meaning of INSANITY is doing the same thing over & over & expecting it to turn out different!! It don’t & NEVER will work! Hitler found that out! The gov (big brother) is NOT my mommy or daddy! I make my own decisions!
    A’ho neoweesh

  5. Legalize pot and you can get the money for your wall and pay for it with the collected tax dollars. As a bonus, you won’t have so many illegal aliens crossing the border since we won’t need their weed.

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