State Medical Marijuana Law Protection is Extended

Members of Congress have re-authorized the amendment that protects state-authorized medical marijuana programs. The provision was originally included in a short-term spending legislation and will expire on April 28, 2017.Medical Marijuana Law Building

The amendment has been through much litigation since being enacted.

In 2014, Congress enacted the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment. The amendment maintains that federal funds cannot be used to prevent states from “implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

In August, a court of appeals unanimously decided that the language of the amendment prohibits the federal government from taking legal action against individuals involved in medical marijuana-related activity. As long as the individual is not in violation of state law, the federal government cannot take action.

Annual re-authorization of the amendment is required.

Because the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment is part of a Congressional spending package rather than the US Controlled Substances Act, Congress members must re-authorize it annually. This spring, House leadership has an opportunity to prohibit federal lawmakers from revisiting the issue.

A change in House rules requires members of the Senate to pass a version of the legislation. The new version would then need to be approved by House leaders. As long as the new version has equivalent protection for the states, it would end the need to have the issue revisited annually.

With openly anti-marijuana leadership entering the White House, it is urgent that this amendment remains authorized or is rewritten and approved. If it is reversed, medical marijuana growers throughout the country who are now growing and distributing legally will be at risk for criminal charges.

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