Congressmen: Anti-Pot Group Wrong About the Elimination of Medical Marijuana Protections

Photo by Nico Escondido

Although the anti-drug group Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) continues to claim that the federal medical marijuana protections known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment have been eliminated from a congressional bill, the lawmakers responsible for the getting it on the books in the first place say it still alive and kicking.

Last week, SAM president Kevin Sabet announced that the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment was omitted from the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) Subcommittee Appropriations bill. Sabet, a former drug policy advisor to President Obama, said its elimination would, once again, give the Department of Justice the right to crackdown in those states that have legalized marijuana for medical purposes.

“If I were an investor, I would sell my marijuana stocks short,” Sabet told High Times in an emailed statement. “The marijuana industry has lost in every state in which they were pushing legislation in 2017, the industry’s largest lobbying group is losing its bank account, and now they are losing protection that has helped them thrive despite marijuana’s illegal status.”

However, according to Congressmen Earl Blumenauer and Dana Rohrabacher, two of the legislative forces responsible for getting the amendment included in the past few federal spending bills, Sabet’s celebratory media broadcast was inaccurate and way off base.

They said the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which was designed to stop the Justice Department from spending tax dollars to prosecute law-biding members of the medical marijuana community, has never been included in the foundation of CJS appropriations bill.

“The folks at SAM clearly don’t understand the legislative process,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement. “Our amendment has never been in the CJS Subcommittee’s bill. There is no news here.”

But that does not mean that medical marijuana is standing on solid ground.

The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment is only a temporary measure that must be renewed every year in order to remain active. This issue comes up for debate again in September.

Incidentally, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been working to persuade congressional leadership not to include the medical marijuana protections in the next spending bill. But Blumenauer and Rohrabacher do not seem to believe there is cause for concern.

“We are exactly where we thought we would be in the legislative process and look forward to amending the underlying bill once again this year to make sure medical marijuana programs, and the patients who rely on them, are protected,” the lawmakers said. “Voters in states across the country have acted to legalize medical marijuana. Congress should not act against the will of the people who elected us.”

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