US Rep Polis predicts medical cannabis safeguard will get OK

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Colorado Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, one of the four founding members of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, said during a panel discussion Tuesday in Denver he believes the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment – which protects medical marijuana businesses from the Department of Justice – will be renewed and remain in federal law.

Polis was one of 44 representatives who recently urged that language from the amendment be included in the base bill for the appropriations process to fund the entire federal government. The base bill that would fund the federal government and also contains Rohrabacher-Farr expires April 28.

Even if the funding bill doesn’t contain Rohrabacher-Farr, Polis said, it won’t matter.

“If they do it, great. If they don’t, we’ll just amend it on the floor, because we know we have the votes. We probably have a 60-vote margin today,” Polis said during a panel hosted by The Denver Post.

However, it may not be that simple.

There has been talk on Capitol Hill for months that Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, may change the appropriations process to prohibit floor amendments. Polis admitted he’s uncertain if there will be an opportunity to add Rohrabacher-Farr if it’s not included in the base bill.

“Traditionally, they have an open process where they bring it to the floor, we’re able to offer amendments. … That’s been the case since I’ve been in Congress, so hopefully that’s going to continue,” Polis said.

Pressed on whether Ryan will allow amendments, Polis said, “We never know until we see the bills. We know about a week ahead.”

Polis said his coalition didn’t ask for language that would prohibit the DOJ from interfering with recreational MJ laws as well as medical because Rohrabacher-Farr had already passed the House in previous votes. But an amendment to include rec failed by 16 votes two years ago.

“We have to win that one first before we say, ‘Put it in your base bill.’ That’s just the way it works,” Polis said. “We could do it, we could send them a letter, but we have to win that vote, basically. So we’re going to force that vote when we have the opportunity.”