House committee blocks votes on medical marijuana protections

The House of Representatives’ Rules Committee has blocked floor votes on several key amendments that protect medical marijuana from federal interference.

The late Wednesday night maneuver doesn’t kill the protections, but it does show that marijuana opponents have not given up efforts to reverse legalization and kill the industry, The Cannabist reported.

The amendments – including the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment (previously known as Rohrabacher-Farr), which prohibits the Justice Department from using federal dollars to go after medical marijuana programs – had been included on a federal appropriations bill. Congressional lawmakers have passed the amendments every year since 2014.

The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment, however, isn’t dead, as it will likely be included in a short-term government spending deal reached Wednesday by the White House and House lawmakers, The Cannabist reported. That deal is good through the end of the year.

Also, the Senate Appropriations Committee has included the amendments in the upper chamber’s spending bill and could be reconciled with a House version, The Cannabist reported.

According to the news outlet, the rules committee also blocked:

  • An amendment that prohibits the punishment of financial institutions that serve licensed marijuana businesses and prevents the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) from rescinding guidelines that allow banks to work with cannabis companies.
  • Protections for medical marijuana research.

The measures were rejected on an 8-5 vote.

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4 comments on “House committee blocks votes on medical marijuana protections
  1. Chris Dalton on

    Good general coverage of the issue but who voted and which way? That information would be helpful for constituents to voice their opinion on their senators actions.

  2. Nathaniel Gurien on

    It’s important to bear in mind that legal cannabis is here to stay – that ship has already sailed.
    We all understand that the road to a mature legal industry given the tension between federal and state law is and will have ‘speedbumps’ and ‘potholes’ and stakeholders must exercise caution in avoiding ‘unpleasantness’ as much as possible.
    However, although the ultimate outcome is assured, the expiration of Rohrabacher-Blumenauer and/or reversal of Cole would certainly make the road longer and rockier.
    But an amendment that prohibits the punishment of financial institutions that serve licensed marijuana businesses is a functionally unenforceable feelgood that won’t move most banks to provide services to the industry anyway, and the FinCen guidelines are only suggestions for sound banking so whether they are ‘withdrawn’ (whatever that means) they remain as authoritative guidance for cannabis-specific AML/KYC compliance.
    I take comfort from many indications (e.g. Session’s recent commission report) that for now both Treasury and Justice are overwhelmingly likely to leave the current protocols in place, and if anything possibly ramp up enforcement of non-compliant operators.

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