US senators back medical marijuana protections in key spending bill

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Members of a U.S. Senate subcommittee this week included key protections for medical marijuana businesses in a spending bill widely acknowledged to be a must-pass measure by the full chamber.

The Senate panel’s action is the latest sign of widening political support for states’ rights to legalize and regulate cannabis without meddling by the federal government.

The protective language, based on the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment, bars the Department of Justice – and therefore the Drug Enforcement Administration – from using federal money to interfere with state medical marijuana programs.

That’s includes the prosecution of state-licensed MMJ companies.

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies gave initial approval to the language on Tuesday, while a final vote is slated for Thursday, Forbes reported.

While the provision has been in law since 2014 – initially known as the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment – it has had to be renewed because it’s tied to the annual budget.

The House Appropriations Committee also approved a parallel measure in its own spending bill last month.

Neither of the bills, however, protect recreational marijuana companies from prosecution by federal agents.