Provision Paves Way for Medical Marijuana States
The provision has been federal law since 2014 although until now its enactment has required a vote on the House floor or a Senate committee. That changed on Tuesday, June 12.
But now the budget rider is part of the initial spending bill for the Justice Department as introduced by Republican Senate leaders, reported Forbes.
"It's taken years of hard work by patients and their advocates, but we've finally reached the point where even in a U.S. Senate controlled by Republicans, a medical marijuana provision is not considered a poison pill and its support requires no further debate," Don Murphy, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, told Forbes.
In that medical marijuana protections were inserted into a House Appropriations last month, the provision is expected to end up in the 2019 budget appropriations to be sent President Trump for his signature later this year. This will clear the way for states to continue their MMJ programs without federal interference - at least through September 2019.
“The Senate Appropriations Committee finally read the writing on the wall and accepted the inevitable, that allowing the Department of Justice to interfere with state-legal medical marijuana programs is bad policy and losing politics,” Justin Strekal, political director of NORML, told Forbes. “Looking at the scorecard, today it's medical freedom: 1; Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his reefer madness ways: 0.”
Although this legislative rider does not protect recreational cannabis or the businesses, it will continue to shield medical marijuana patients.
“And that is a much-appreciated measure of relief in light of the fact that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this year rescinded Obama-era protections that generally allowed states to implement cannabis laws without harassment from the Justice Department,” says Tom Angell of Marijuana Moment.
A full committee vote on the overall bill is expected on Thursday.