U.S. lawmakers are set to debate a measure that could have significant implications for the medical cannabis community, in a good way.
Up for consideration is a proposal that, if passed, would bar federal funding from being used for medical marijuana raids.
The bipartisan measure – called the Rohrabacher-Hinchey-Farr Amendment – would “recognize the right of states to operate their own programs with respect to the issue of medical cannabis, without prohibitive interference from the U.S. Justice Department,” according to Americans for Safe Access (ASA). The federal government, therefore, could not pump money into efforts in any of the 16 states with MMJ laws – as well as the District of Columbia – to raid cannabis businesses that are complying with local regulations.
The measure is an amendment to an appropriations bill.
It’s an extremely timely issue, given that the government has spearheaded dozens of raids in several states over the past year. Numerous dispensaries and grow operations have closed as a result, with some forced to shut their doors and others simply deciding that the risks are too great.
The amendment wouldn’t bring an end to raids. The federal government would still be free to go after dispensaries that are violating state laws, and local law enforcement could still target MMJ businesses on its own. But the measure would certainly send a strong message to the Obama administration and, more importantly, help reduce the number of raids on legitimate cannabis operations.
The House is expected to vote on the measure as early as today. The amendment is named after the three lawmakers who are sponsoring the bill: Reps. Dana Rohrabacher and Sam Farr of California and Rep. Maurice Hinchey of New York. A fourth, Tom McClintock of California, has attached his name to the amendment as well.
To help sway lawmakers, ASA is urging medical marijuana advocates to ask their state Congressional representatives to vote in favor of the bill.