Pot Patients’ Federal Cease-Fire Extended

Medical marijuana patients, caregivers and their providers can breath a little easier until election day.

On Friday, Congress extended its cease-fire on medical marijuana, as part of a broader budget extension until after the Nov. 8 election, reports indicate.

The so-called Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment was in danger of sunsetting Friday, if lawmakers failed to agree on a broader package to fund the government. Congress ultimately resolved to pass the budget extension so they could head home to campaign in the final weeks of the general election.

Among the budget extensions was the historic Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, which blocks the department of justice from spending any money interfering in state legal medical marijuana systems. The Amendment has been repeatedly upheld in lower court and circuit court rulings, and amounts to a precedent-tested legal shield protecting all state-lawful medical pot providers nationwide.

Without the shield, the Department of Justice could spend hundreds of millions of dollars threatening state officials for violating federal drug laws, as well as seizing and selling medical marijuana-related property and assets. The shield is set to expire Dec. 9.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has promised to respect state medical pot laws and downgrade marijuana to schedule 2 of the Controlled Substances Act, potentially lessening federal enforcement.

Republican candidate Donald Trump has also said he’d potentially respect states rights with regard to medical marijuana. However, his potential Attorney General, Chris Christie, has been a national leader in the effort to deny patients access to pot.

This year, Congress has failed to pass numerous marijuana measures, including a permanent cease-fire on medical marijuana, re-scheduling, or banking reform.

Thirty-five states has some form of medical marijuana law and four states and Washington DC have legalized pot for adults 21 and over. Nine state have pot law reforms on their ballot’s this election.

Award-winning San Francisco journalist and best-selling author David Downs is a contributor to Cannabis Now. His writing has appeared in Scientific American, WIRED, Rolling Stone and the New York Times.

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