he massive 1,603-page omnibus spending bill released by lawmakers on Tuesday will prevent the Department of Justice from using any funds to go after marijuana patients and providers in states with medical marijuana programs.
The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment was introduced and approved earlier in May by the House and is included in the omnibus after intense negotiation between leaders of both the Senate and House appropriations committees. As a result, over 20 different states with some form of medical marijuana program will be shielded from the DOJ and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
“None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used…to prevent such States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana,” the legislation states in Section 538.
California Democratic Rep. Sam Farr, a co-author, was pleased with the outcome. “Patients will have access to the care legal in their state without fear of federal prosecution. And our federal dollars will be spent more wisely on fighting actual crimes and not wasted going after patients,” Rep. Farr said.
An extra section tacked on will protect industrial hemp cultivation under the Agricultural Act of 2014 by again restricting the funds allocated to enforcement agencies.
However, the outcome of the omnibus bill is not yet set in stone. It still needs to be approved by a full a House and Senate, after which point it will be sent to President Barack Obama’s desk to be signed. It seems unlikely that Obama would veto the legislation, and Congress has signaled willingness to pass the legislation.
If approved, the bill would stop several federal cases right in their tracks and prevent U.S. Attorneys from launching civil asset forfeiture suits against marijuana dispensaries in California. The case against the Kettle Falls Five in Washington state would also have to be dropped, a welcome development for the five defendants who currently face harsh mandatory sentences after being charged by the federal government with drug felonies.
“Congressional leaders seem to have finally gotten the message that a supermajority of Americans wants states to be able to implement sensible marijuana reforms without federal interference. This legislation greatly reduces the chances that costly and senseless DEA raids will come between seriously ill patients and the doctor-recommended medicine they need for relief,” Tom Angell, Chairman for the Marijuana Majority, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“Now that Congress has created political space by taking this important legislative step, there are no remaining excuses for the Obama administration not to exercise its executive power to reschedule marijuana immediately.”
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