On Tuesday, a new federal spending bill was unveiled in Congress which will continue to prohibit the Justice Department from interfering in state medical cannabis laws. The provision included in the bill titled the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment intends to prevent the Department of Justice and DEA from arresting or prosecuting patients, caregivers and businesses acting in compliance with state cannabis laws.
The piece of legislation stems from an amendment sponsored by Representatives Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Sam Farr (D-CA) that was first approved in the House of Representatives last year. “The renewal of the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment suggests most members of Congress are ready to end the federal government’s war on medical marijuana,” said Robert Capecchi, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project. “There’s a growing sentiment that the Justice Department should not be using taxpayer dollars to arrest and prosecute people who are following their states’ medical marijuana laws.”
The new spending bill as well renews the Harris Amendment, signed into law in 1962, which prevents the District of Columbia from regulating cannabis for adult use. Although District voters approved a ballot initiative in 2014 to make possession and growing of of cannabis legal for adults 21 years of age and older, the half-century-year-old amendment prevents the District of Columbia from regulating the cultivation and distribution of the substance, which for some, breeds a feeling of collective disappointment.
“Marijuana is now legal for adults in the District of Columbia, and it needs to be treated like a legal product,” Capecchi said. “It is irrational to prohibit D.C. officials from establishing a regulatory system to control the cultivation and distribution of marijuana. By renewing the Harris Amendment, Congress is posing a real threat to public health and safety in our nation’s capitol.”
“This amendment has teeth, but only as long as it keeps getting renewed,” Capecchi said. “It’s time for Congress to adopt a more permanent solution. The CARERS Act is one option, but Sen. Grassley is not allowing it to get a committee hearing. Unfortunately, some members are still clinging to antiquated prohibition policies.”
The spotlight continues to shine on the country’s capitol as the presence of the cannabis scene continues to take shape.