Medical marijuana supporters hopeful about government funding bill

Medical marijuana supporters hopeful about government funding bill
© Greg Nash

Medical marijuana supporters are breathing a sigh of relief as they hope to avoid a possible crackdown by the Trump administration

With Congress closing in on a government funding bill to last through September, lawmakers intend to extend a provision that blocks the Department of Justice from interfering with medical marijuana companies in states that have legalized the drug for medicinal purposes.

The government funding bill also carves out room for researchers to study industrial hemp.

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These provisions were included in the previous government funding bill that expired last Friday, raising the possibility that Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard Sessions'Occupy ICE' protests emerge across the country Prosecutor warned border authorities office is ‘diverting’ DOJ resources from other cases: report There's room in America for domestic violence victims MORE could begin a nationwide crackdown on medical marijuana companies with the next funding measure.

“Medical marijuana patients and the businesses that support them now have a measure of certainty,” said Rep. Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerOvernight Defense: Defense spending bill amendments target hot-button issues | Space Force already facing hurdles | Senators voice 'deep' concerns at using military lawyers on immigration cases Bipartisan lawmakers agree — marijuana prohibition has failed and it’s time to change the law Commodity checkoff reform needed MORE (D-Ore.), who is helping push the medical marijuana budget measure through Congress.

Congress passed a one-week budget extension last Friday and is expected by the end of the week to extend funding through September. The marijuana provisions are expected to be included in the budget extension.

The medical marijuana budget measure passed in 2014 but must be renewed each year in the government spending bill. It was originally sponsored by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and Sam FarrSamuel (Sam) Sharon FarrMedical marijuana supporters hopeful about government funding bill Marijuana advocates to give away free joints on Capitol Hill DEA decision against reclassifying marijuana ignores public opinion MORE (D-Calif.); Blumenauer has since replaced the retired Farr as the Democratic co-sponsor.

Blumenauer and other lawmakers who support looser pot laws would like to make it a permanent fixture in the nation’s laws.

“This annual challenge must end,” Blumenauer said. “We need permanent protections for state-legal medical marijuana programs, as well as adult-use.”