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Trump–Dem Budget Deal Extends MMJ Protections to Dec. 8

September 11, 2017
Medical marijuana patients, growers, and dispensaries have three more months of protection from Jeff Sessions and any federal crackdown, thanks to a deal cut late last week between President Trump and leaders in Congress.

The hurricane relief, federal spending, and debt ceiling agreement between President Trump and congressional Democratic leaders included a Rohrabacher–Blumenauer clause, which will effectively shield state medical marijuana programs from federal intrusion until Dec. 8, 2017.

The language in the deal means the Department of Justice may not use any funds to prevent states—as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico—from “implementing a law that authorizes the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

Related

House Committee Blocks Medical Marijuana Protections

The Trump–Dem deal, which caught Republican leaders by surprise, effectively ended (at least temporarily) the move by House Republicans to scuttle the Rohrabacher–Blumenauer amendment. That measure, which has been in place in various forms since 2014, uses a budget amendment to prevent the various Justice Department agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, from arresting and prosecuting people abiding by state medical cannabis laws.

How Did That Happen?

Early Wednesday, the House approved a standalone measure to provide nearly $8 billion in relief to Hurricane Harvey victims. The House sent the measure to the Senate on a 419–3 vote. Senate Democratic leaders picked up the Harvey bill and bundled it with a federal spending package and debt ceiling extension. Republican leaders hated the co-mingling of the bills, with House Speaker Paul Ryan calling the idea “ridiculous.”

But President Trump wanted to move past the budget and debt debate and get on with trying to pass a tax reform package—and he may have seen the Democrats’ offer as a way to do it.

Related

Judge Halts Feds’ Cannabis Case, Citing Rohrabacher-Blumenauer

In effect, Republican and Democratic congressional leaders presented President Trump with dueling offers late Wednesday. Trump went with the Democratic package, which funded Hurricane Harvey relief to Texas and extended federal spending and the debt ceiling through Dec. 8. With the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) within days of running out of money, Congress was under intense pressure to pass hurricane relief. Congressional leaders relented, passing the Harvey-budget-debt deal in the House and Senate with heavy Democratic support and light Republican opposition.

The upshot: Hurricane Harvey victims receive relief, and the federal budget and debt ceiling debates get kicked down the road to early December.

Where Did Medical Cannabis Fit In?

The key, for cannabis purposes, is that last week’s deal was based on the existing version of the federal spending package, which lawmakers effectively extended. It includes the medical marijuana protection language. Of course, the whole thing (except the hurricane aid) expires in three months. So we’ll see you back here in early December.

Related

In Rebuke to Sessions, Senate Committee OKs Medical Marijuana Protections

Going forward, the Senate will likely have to hammer out a compromise with the House, whose version of the federal spending measure specifically did not include that language, thanks to a maneuver by the House Rules Committee Chairman, Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX).

Bruce Barcott's Bio Image

Bruce Barcott

Leafly Senior Editor Bruce Barcott oversees news, investigations, and feature projects. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and author of Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America.

View Bruce Barcott's articles

  • Chaddy Liquor Tits

    I hope Jeff Sessions dies a slow, horrific, agonizing death soon. Like really soon. Like starting now. The fact that he was delegated power to begin with is beyond pathetic.

    • Anton_Zilwicki

      I think you’re holding back. Come on now. Tell us how you REALLY feel!

      • Chaddy Liquor Tits

        I was having a moment .. lol

    • Auryan

      Send him some brownies for his birthday…..that might bring him around.

      • Chaddy Liquor Tits

        I like your style

  • Auryan

    These are merely the final throws of a dying argument against the use of one of the most phenomenal plants on Earth. This is all about money…NOTHING MORE. So while some of this may make us nervous at times with all the back and forth…the TIDE HAS TURNED. The truth will set us free…always. It’s just some people are very vested in their iron clad, no budge realities. Do you really think a multi-billion dollar industry is suddenly going to be shut down over rhetoric of ignorance?

  • Arlan Pierce

    People write and/or call not only the Senators and Congress people but local officials friends and relative’s to do the same. Bringing this plant, herb and medicine from a schedule1 to a schedule3 so medical research will not only continue but flourish. Many x many people, that have used CBD oil as being only one of what could be countless medical discoveries to come. I myself use CBD for arthritis and have found it nothing less than amazing. Have not needed any other med for arthritis since. We are on the other side of big pharm. and the big money there. So it will end up people power vs. big business/money power. So we need more people to beat more money.

  • Izzat So

    Is Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) any relation to Jeff Sessions? Birds of a feather?

    • Ron Coletta

      Pete and Jeff are married 😂

  • BenSamizdat

    What I don’t get is that the Rohrabacher-Farr amendent was supposed to be a year-long allowance. Yet on May 5, 2017, the Rohrabacher–Farr amendment was renewed only until September 30, 2017. Something doesn’t add up. The allowance should last until May 5, 2018.

  • Regina

    It would be nice, when; We get a Strain named: Rorabacher & Blumenauer…the bill as it is???
    True Compassion***
    Or one named Jeff Sessions
    Stuck in time!
    I want to grow my own on my own land, for my own personal use, and those who, I cargive for…for FREE!!!