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 SessionsFederal judge rules Trump defunding sanctuary cities 'unconstitutional on its face' FBI informant gathered years of evidence on Russian push for US nuclear fuel deals, including Uranium One, memos show Alabama election has GOP racing against the clock 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 BlumenauerGOP chairman breaks with Trump on elephant trophy imports Live coverage: Day four of the Ways and Means GOP tax bill markup Live coverage: Day two of the Ways and Means GOP tax bill markup 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 FarrSam 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.”