The only federal law formally preventing the U.S. Department of Justice from prosecuting medical marijuana businesses has once more been given a new lease on life.
This time, the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment – formerly known as Rohrabacher-Farr – has been extended until March 23 under the budget deal passed by Congress and signed Friday morning by President Donald Trump.
Rohrabacher-Blumenauer prohibits the DOJ from using federal funds to interfere with state-legal MMJ laws and companies.
The measure does not protect recreational marijuana businesses.
Because Rohrabacher-Blumenauer has been approved in the past only as an amendment to the federal budget, the law’s life span is tied to annual renewal by Congress.
The GOP-controlled Congress has not approved a new budget since 2015, instead having repeatedly delayed negotiations over a longer-term budget until recently, so the longer-term fate of the amendment is still uncertain.
It’s possible the amendment will be included in a larger spending package that is expected to be approved by March 23.
But there’s no guarantee at this point, given a change in procedural rules in the House of Representatives last year that has prevented amendments like Rohrabacher-Blumenauer from being added to the budget.
A glimmer of hope came from the Senate Appropriations Committee last year, however, when Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy got the amendment added to a Senate version of the spending bill.
Proponents of the amendment note that it has overwhelming popular support in the House as well.
John Schroyer can be reached at email@example.com