An indoor commercial cannabis cultivation site in Washington state.

Rory Savatgy

MMJ and Hemp Program Protections Included in Federal Budget Resolution

State-legal medical cannabis and hemp programs are safe until at least September as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment – which prohibits the Department of Justice from spending funds to interfere with codified medical and hemp regimes – was included in the federal budget resolution.

Rep. Earl Blumenaur, a Democrat who heads the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, said in a statement that the extension of the amendment gives both patients and providers “a measure of certainty.”

The measure was initially passed in 2014 and has been renewed in subsequent budgets.

In a blog post, NORML Political Director Justin Strekal called the move “a stopgap at best.”

“Ultimately, Congress needs to amend federal law in a manner that comports with the available science, public opinion, and with America’s rapidly changing cultural and legal landscape, he wrote. “Such action includes removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act so that states possess the flexibility to engage in their own marijuana regulatory policies how best they see fit.”

Michael Kulick, a partner at Feuerstein Kulick LLP, which works in the cannabis industry, said the firm was “happy to see common sense prevail and for Congress to continue to respect states’ rights as it relates to medical marijuana.”

“Hopefully, this is a sign that Congress will likewise pass other measures that are teed up for its consideration,” he said in a statement. “It is high time that Congress acknowledges the will of the people who overwhelmingly support states’ rights to legalize, appropriately regulate and tax marijuana within their borders.”

The amendment, however, does not include language protecting adult-use regimes; although following a meeting with Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper indicated that he didn’t sense that a federal crackdown on recreational regimes was on the horizon.

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