By Alan Pyke
Attorney General Jeff Sessions will be prohibited from going after state medical marijuana growers, retailers, and patients for at least another fiscal year, after lawmakers included language tying the Department of Justice’s hands on therapeutic weed in an omnibus spending bill this week.
The restrictions defy Sessions’ personal plea to Congress from roughly a year ago, when he sent a letter asking for permission to interfere with the medical cannabis industry. Lawmakers have sheltered state medicinal pot programs from federal law enforcement for several years now using a policy rider in spending legislation. The language, known today in both political and pot industry circles as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment (RBA), says the Department of Justice (DOJ) can’t spend a penny of its budget on investigations or prosecutions of medical marijuana actors in 46 states.
The omnibus deal hasn’t yet reached final passage. But if lawmakers or the White House were to attempt changes to it, the RBA would likely still be safe. Every spending measure adopted for the past three years has included some version of the language.
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