Yesterday, against all expectations, the House blocked voting on the Rohrabacher-Farr, now Rohrabacher-Blumenauer, amendment along with two other cannabis related amendments. Rohrabacher-Farr had previously provided protection to states with legalized medical marijuana by preventing tax dollars from being deployed to the Department of Justice for cannabis enforcement purposes. These protections have been in place since 2014 and the failure to vote to renew this amendment may be a predictor of challenging times ahead.
While there is still a chance that these protections may be included in the longer term funding bill, this is clearly a significant setback for the cannabis industry, medical clinics and medical patients. Rohrabacher-Farr (Blumenauer) has previously been cited by Courts as a mechanism to halt criminal cases as well as ensuring that funding is diverted away from the DEA for cannabis enforcement.
Both Congressman Rohrabacher and Congressman Blumenauer, along with other allies, have put out written responses expressing their extreme disappointment and promising to continue the fight. They have pledged to work hard to find another home for this amendment; specifically in the broader funding bill that will be moved later this year.
It is impossible to make predictions as to what will come now that these protections have lapsed. Certainly there is a strong possibility, under the current administration and Department of Justice, of a return to much more serious law enforcement involvement in the days ahead. Additionally, this does not bode well for seeing any forward progress on necessary changes such as banking and 280E reform. However, we are very thankful to have such strong and staunch supporters and advocates in Congress as the fight to end prohibition continues.