Medical marijuana protections extended again as part of budget deal

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Yet again, those in the medical cannabis industry can heave a sigh of relief. For now.

Under the terms of a new federal budget deal approved Monday by Congress, the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment will be extended at least once more, until Feb. 8, when the agreement expires.

The extension was confirmed by Michael Correia, director of government relations for the National Cannabis Industry Association:

“Medical marijuana protections still remain until that date,” Correia wrote in an email to Marijuana Business Daily.

“We’re working on maintaining those provisions in a longer-term budget.”

The amendment – previously known as Rohrabacher-Farr – ties the hands of the U.S. Department of Justice and its director, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, by prohibiting the agency from using any federal money to interfere with state MMJ laws or businesses.

The measure does not protect recreational marijuana companies.

This is the seventh time the amendment has been temporarily extended by a continuing resolution from Congress, which hasn’t passed a new federal budget since 2015.

The amendment’s ultimate fate is still arguably in doubt, however, because GOP congressional leaders haven’t allowed it to come up for a vote in the House of Representatives.

The amendment was added to a Senate appropriations bill last year, but the competing spending bills between the two chambers were never reconciled.

The only way the measure will be placed into law permanently is for Congress to approve a stand-alone bill instead of as a budget amendment.

But there’s been no indication yet that such a bill may gain any real traction in the Capitol.