Federal Protections on Medical Marijuana Expire Amid Government Shutdown

The U.S. government has officially been put into a shutdown, which has caused federal protections on state-level medical marijuana and hemp laws to expire.

Despite the House of Representatives on Thursday approving an extension of federal funding, the Senate has failed to do the same. This means that as of Midnight, the government has been placed in a shutdown. This shutdown has resulted in the expiration of the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, which prohibits the Department of Justice from using funds to enforce federal cannabis laws in states that have legalized the plant for medical use.

The government shutdown has also caused the expiration of a federal amendment which protects state laws allowing for the cultivation and research of hemp.

Read moreFederal Protections on Medical Marijuana Expire Amid Government Shutdown

U.S. House Votes Extend Medical Marijuana and Hemp Protections

The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a bill to avoid a government shutdown, and extend federal protections for state medical marijuana and hemp programs.

The measure was approved by a vote of 230 to 197, which extends government funding through February 16. The approved legislation extends the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment , was was initially passed in 2014. The amendment prohibits the Department of Justice – which includes the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) – from using funds to enforce federal cannabis laws in states that have legalized the plant for medical use.

The legislation also extends an amendment that gives federal protection to state laws that allow for the cultivation of hemp for research purposes.

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President Trump Signs Bill that Protects State Medical Marijuana Laws

A day after the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate approved legislation that extends protections for state-level medical marijuana laws, President Trump signed the measure into law.

President trump signed the legislation into law this morning, temporarily preventing a government shutdown. The measure extends legal protections that prevents the government from using funds to enforce federal cannabis laws in states that have legalized the substance for medical uses (including those with a licensed dispensary system). The extension, however, is temporary; it will be valid until December 22nd, at which point lawmakers will need to pass another extension to avoid a shutdown of most government funding and to prevent invalidity the medical marijuana protections.

These protections – passed in 2014 as the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment – prohibits the Department of Justice and DEA from using federal funding to enforce federal marijuana laws in a state that has legalized medical cannabis.

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Republicans Block Vote on Continuing to Protect Medical Marijuana States

House Republicans have blocked a vote on renewing the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which protects state medical marijuana laws.

“The status quo for four years has been the federal government will not interfere because the Department of Justice is not permitted to use its resources to supercede a state that has legalized the medical use of marijuana,” said California Representative Rohrabacher (R) in a meeting earlier today with other House Republicans. By blocking a vote, Rohrabacher says “we’re changing the status quo in a way that undermines the rights of the states and the people.. to make their policy.”

Representative Duncan Hunter, also a Republican from California, told The Hill that the amendment “splits the conference too much so we’re not going to have a vote on it.”

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Pennsylvania Senate Tells Feds to Respect State Medical Marijuana Laws

Pennsylvania’s full Senate has passed a resolution urging the federal government to reauthorize an amendment that protects state medical marijuana laws.

Senate Resolution 36 was adopted today by the Senate with an overwhelming 47 to 2 vote. The resolution was filed by Senator Michael Folmer with 11 bipartisan cosponsors.

According to the resolution’s official language:

WHEREAS, The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment expires on April 28, 2017; therefore be it

RESOLVED, That the Senate of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania urge the Congress of the United States to reauthorize the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment to prevent the United States Department of Justice from spending funds to interfere with the implementation of state medical marijuana laws; and be it further

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Pennsylvania Senate Committee Passes Resolution Urging Feds to Respect State Medical Marijuana Laws

A Senate committee in Pennsylvania has passed a resolution urging federal lawmakers to reauthorize an amendment that prevents the Justice Department from interfering with state-level medical marijuana laws.

The Senate State Government Committee passed Senate Resolution 36 with a unanimous 10 to 0 vote. It must now be passed by one more committee before it can be put to a vote in the full Senate, where passage would sent it to the House of Representatives. The resolution was filed by Senator Michael Folmer with 11 bipartisan cosponsors.

According to the resolution:

WHEREAS, The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment expires on April 28, 2017; therefore be it

RESOLVED, That the Senate of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania urge the Congress of the United States to reauthorize the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment to prevent the United States Department of Justice from spending funds to interfere with the implementation of state medical marijuana laws; and be it further

Read morePennsylvania Senate Committee Passes Resolution Urging Feds to Respect State Medical Marijuana Laws

Federal Court Tells DEA to Leave Dispensaries Alone

In a hugely important decision, a federal court in California has ruled that the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) interpretationcannabisplant of a federal medical cannabis provision which was included in last year’s national spending bill “defies language and logic”. The court stated that the DEA’s recent raids on dispensaries in California “tortures the plain meaning of the statute” and is “at odds with fundamental notions of the rule of law.”

Last year a federal spending bill – which was passed into law – included a Rohrabacher-Farr amendment that prohibits the Justice Department from using federal funds to “prevent such States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

Read moreFederal Court Tells DEA to Leave Dispensaries Alone