Members of Congress call for extension of federal marijuana protections

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A little more than a week and a half before a key deadline, a bipartisan group of 66 members of Congress have signed a letter to leaders of both the U.S. House and Senate, asking them to ensure the extension of a law that protects state medical marijuana programs from interference by federal law enforcement agents.

The lawmakers asked the majority and minority leaders of both chambers to protect the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment, which prohibits the Department of Justice from using federal funds to interfere with state MMJ laws. The amendment is slated to expire Dec. 8 if it is not renewed.

The list of signatories includes 28 Republicans and 38 Democrats, all from the House, but there are also plenty of U.S. senators that have taken the industry’s side when it comes to the renewal of Rohrabacher-Blumenauer.

The law – previously known as the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment – was first passed as an attachment to the federal budget in 2014, and has since been renewed annually.

But this year Congress has repeatedly kicked the can down the road by approving what are known as “continuing resolutions,” which keep in place the same federal budget without making any changes. That happened in April, again in May, and then again in September, and Congress may do the same again next week to avoid a shutdown of the federal government.

With the House Rules Committee having repeatedly denied allowing amendments to be offered from the floor, and with the House Appropriations Committee having refused earlier this year to attach Rohrabacher-Blumenauer to an appropriations bill, the law’s future remains in doubt.

If allowed to expire, there will be nothing to keep the anti-cannabis Attorney General Jeff Sessions from prosecuting MMJ businesses across the country.