Marijuana legalization sputters in government spending bill

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Pot advocates are sputtering in the fight to legalize marijuana.

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Lawmakers extended protections for medical marijuana patients, but declined to adopt any further pot measures as part of a $1.9 trillion government spending bill for 2016, unveiled early Wednesday.

The Justice Department would be prohibited from prosecuting people who are following their state medical marijuana and hemp research laws. These provisions were first included in this year’s government funding bill.

However, provisions failed that would have granted pot shops access to banks and allowed doctors at the Department of Veterans Affairs to recommend medical marijuana to soldiers.

Furthermore, lawmakers will continue to block Washington, D.C., from regulating pot.

Marijuana advocates say the next step is for Congress to pass stand-alone legislation protecting pot.

“While marijuana was once treated like a dangerous third-rail by most elected officials, the inclusion of these provisions demonstrates how it has now become a mainstream issue at the forefront of American politics and policymaking,” said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority.