On Nov. 28, 2017, a bipartisan group of federal lawmakers sent a letter to congressional leaders, urging them to extend protection of state medical cannabis laws in the 2018 appropriations bill via a provision that would put language in the spending bill to prevent the United States Department of Justice from using federal funds to prosecute those in compliance with state medical cannabis laws.
With the 2017 appropriations bill expiring on Dec. 8, the letter, spearheaded by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., was sent on behalf of 66 members of Congress, in the hopes of securing protection for state medical cannabis laws in the 2018 appropriations bill, which has yet to be finalized.
“The provision, which first became law in December 2014, has successfully protected patients, providers, and businesses against federal prosecution, so long as they act within the confines of their state’s medical marijuana laws,” the group of lawmakers wrote in its letter.
While the group has the support of 66 members of Congress, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions personally asked Congress this past May to oppose the provision.
“I believe it would be unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the Department to fund particular prosecutions, particularly in the midst of an historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime,” Sessions wrote in a letter to House and Senate leadership.
In addition to facing opposition from Sessions, the provision was blocked in the House of Representatives; however, the Senate’s version of the provision was adopted for the Senate appropriations bill this past July and the bipartisan group of federal lawmakers are asking that the language adopted by the Senate be included in the final appropriations bill.