The amendment has been successfully applied in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
In recent years, staunch cannabis supporters in Congress have passed a budget amendment to disallow the use of federal enforcement funds against the implementation of state medical cannabis laws. Originally called the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment after Orange County Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R) and Rep. Sam Farr (D) of Monterey County, the amendment prevents the Justice Department from using funds to prevent or impede the implementation of a state’s medical cannabis laws, effectively preventing the DOJ from prosecuting operators of businesses for violations of the federal Controlled Substances Act, if those businesses are in compliance with state and local medical cannabis laws. The amendment has been successfully applied in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in U.S. v. McIntosh, to prevent the DOJ from continuing to prosecute against defendants who can establish their cannabis operations follow state law.
This year’s amendment currently extends the protections for state-legal medical cannabis
Each year the amendment expires and must be renewed. This year’s amendment is co-sponsored by Rep. Rohrabacher and Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D), and currently extends the protections for state-legal medical cannabis through September 30. Representatives Rohrabacher and Blumenauer, along with fellow Congressional Cannabis Caucus Member Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), have fought hard to keep the amendment in the budget bill, and have vowed to try and persuade A.G. Sessions to respect state cannabis laws.
A separate amendment takes aims at protecting states’ adult-use laws
The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment applies only to medical cannabis, but a separate amendment, the McClintock-Polis amendment proposed by Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) and Jared Polis, takes aims at protecting states’ adult-use laws as well. The McClintock-Polis amendment was not offered in this latest round of the budget fight because the funding bill is merely a continuing resolution. However, the Representatives intend to offer their bill this fall when the full appropriations bill comes under discussion.
A permanent solution by way of amendment to federal law to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act is necessary
While the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment gives state-legal medical operators some temporary relief, it is only a “band-aid” at best. Ultimately, a permanent solution by way of amendment to federal law to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act is necessary to allow states the flexibility to properly regulate cannabis within their own borders.
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