The US government is headed toward a possible shutdown, as President Donald Trump appears ready to make a hard ask for border-wall funding and removal of federal funds for so-called “sanctuary cities” and possibly Obamacare subsidies. It’s not likely the votes exist in Congress for that funding.
Flying beneath the radar is an existing budget measure that forbids the federal government from interfering in state-level medical-marijuana programs. If it is not renewed as part of a new spending package, an administration that has taken a very hostile position toward weed will have a green light to go after the medical marijuana operations that serve 199.7 million Americans.
The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment expires on April 28, along with the continuing resolution that funds the government. It prohibits the Department of Justice from spending any funds that stop states from “implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”
When this amendment first became law in 2014, the Obama administration tried to ignore it by asserting it could still prosecute cases against individuals or businesses in states with medical-marijuana laws. But several federal courts smacked down that interpretation, saying it “defie(d) language and logic.” The provision is now widely understood to prevent any raids on medical-marijuana operations nationwide.
Expiration would change all that. And several top Trump officials appear hostile to legalized marijuana. Representative Tom Marino, who Trump will reportedly name to the head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, voted against Rohrabacher-Farr. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said recently that “I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store,” and added that “Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life.” He created a task force to “review” federal marijuana policies.