Despite 9 out of 10 Americans supporting legal access to medical cannabis, the U.S. House Rules Committee has opened the door for the feds to prosecute medical marijuana cases in legal states.
The committee–which determines what bills will come to the floor and in what order– blocked a vote to keep in place the Rohrabacher-Blumenhauer Amendment (formerly known as Rohrabacher-Farr), a budget item that prohibits using federal dollars for prosecuting states with medical marijuana laws. Since 2014, the amendment has been included as a rider in the federal budget, allowing the cannabis industry to expand and grow in legalized states without fear of prosecution by the Justice Department.
In recent weeks, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif, had pleaded with fellow Republicans to help protect medical marijuana from being criminalized by the Federal government despite calls from Atty. General Jeff Sessions’ outspoken calls to drop the amendment. The amendment had successful bi-partisan support in previous years.
“Unfortunately, my longtime friend Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, has urged Congress to drop the amendment, now co-sponsored by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.). This, despite President Trump’s belief, made clear in his campaign and as president, that states alone should decide medical marijuana policies,” said Rohrabacher in a recent Washington Post op-ed. “Mr. Sessions stands athwart an overwhelming majority of Americans and even, sadly, against veterans and other suffering Americans who we now know conclusively are helped dramatically by medical marijuana,” said Rohrbacher to the Washington Post in June.
Conservative leadership has taken a hard line on marijuana in the last six months, blocking bills that would alleviate harsh restrictions on banking, scientific research, and access to marijuana for veterans.
There’s still some hope on the horizon for medical marijuana users, since a Senate appropriations bill approved in July has many of the same protections.
“Unless Congress chooses the Senate budget version, millions of seriously ill patients and the legitimate businesses that provide them with safe access to their medicine will be at risk of prosecution,” said Don Murphy, director of conservative outreach for the Marijuana Policy Project to Leafly. “This vote is a slap in the face of patients, their families, their elected representatives, and the 10th Amendment.”