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U.S. Representatives Respond Optimistically to Rollback of Cole Memo

Today’s decision by the United States Department of Justice to rescind the Cole Memo sent shock waves throughout the nationwide cannabis industry, as it protects state cannabis laws.

But another piece of legislation stands between the federal government and medical cannabis state laws. The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment is known for its extremely rare bipartisan support from both republicans and democrats, working together to protect state medical cannabis laws.

Members of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, including Rep. Earl Blumenauer and Congressman Dana Rohrabacher believe the amendment will be once again renewed when it expires on Jan. 19. “I think we’re both confident that we’re in a very strong position for [The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment] to be renewed,” Rep. Earl Blumenauer told CULTURE. “. . . It’s timely that it actually should be expanded. We have support in both parties to do this. This puts a spotlight on it. Dana has been working tirelessly on his side of this aisle. We’ve had broad bipartisan support, and we’re in great shape in the Senate. Hopefully, this will enable us to ramp up and expand those protections.”

The removal of the Cole Memo was an unexpected blow to the industry, but lawmakers were optimistic. “Let me just say that the announcement today about the Cole Memo will actually serve our purposes in the sense that it will mobilize us and mobilize people around the country who have taken the Blumenauer-Rohrabacher (formerly the Rohrabacher-Farr) language and have taken it for granted,” Rep. Dana Rohrabacher told CULTURE. “So now, we know that we have to gear up for this. I agree with Earl that we can be optimistic, and that we have a real shot at this, but we need to make sure that it’s in any continuing resolution that will just keep it here temporarily.”

But then, Rohrabacher warned, we need to make sure that it is included in any bill, especially an omnibus bill that would carry on for a year. “During that year, however, let’s note that I think that with the Cole Memo language being discarded now, that it will give us something to rally behind and for both republicans and democrats to show that we need to have a comprehensive bill that just says not just medical marijuana, but that the federal government will respect all of the decisions of the states when it comes to cannabis. And if the states want to have more restrictions, that’s fine. If they want adult-use, that’s fine. If they want to have medical marijuana that’s fine, depending on what level they want to be at. I think that this today, because I would consider it to be an offensive move against us, will actually mobilize us and permit us to win the day and carry this over for at least a year, but during the year, we will know that we’ve got to make the fundamental change that bring a greater version of this into public law, so it doesn’t have to be replaced every year.”

Today, republicans and democrats will unite in one singular effort to protect each state’s right to enact its own laws regarding medical and adult-use cannabis.