While last night’s 219-189 U.S. House vote in favor of amending HR 4660, a criminal justice funding bill, represents a step forward for state’s rights, it does not offer protections for patients, dispensaries or cooperatives in states with medical marijuana.
“None of the funds made available in this act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to [the 32 states with medical marijuana laws of any kind and the District of Columbia], to prevent such states from implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana,” reads the amendment in its entirety.
As of yet the federal government has not challenged the laws in states that have implemented medical marijuana laws or even with Colorado and Washington state, which have recreational cannabis laws in place. Instead, the DOJ has announced it will focus on eight federal enforcement priorities and the DEA has continued to raid individual dispensaries.
The recent amendment, introduced by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s (R-Calif.), will still need to be reconciled with the Senate version of the funding bill and receive the president’s signature before becoming law. If the amendment is signed into law, the limitations it provides in relation to DOJ funding would only be in place for the next fiscal year before another criminal justice funding bill is introduced.