What effects could the current government shutdown in the United States have on medical cannabis? While there’s potential for havoc, it’s likely to be business as usual.
The U.S Federal Government shut down late last week as a result of President Trump, Republican politicians and Democrats failing to agree on a funding deal for U.S. agencies.
While not a deal-breaker, part of the contentious budget appropriations bill was an extension of the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, which prohibits the Justice Department from using funds to interfere with or carry out prosecutions in regard to state medical marijuana programs.
The amendment has been in the crosshairs of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who made a failed attempt last year to convince lawmakers to ditch it.
With the budget appropriations bill currently in limbo, so too is the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment extension.
Fears of a crackdown on medical cannabis have been fuelled by the fact that the DEA is continuing operations, as are federal prosecutors. Marijuana Moment said patients and providers in medical marijuana states were at risk and mentioned pre- Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment medical cannabis prosecutions could potentially be revived.
Marijuana reform group NORML says even given the situation, not much has really changed.
It points out honoring of Rohrabacher-Blumenauer protections have been in doubt throughout Mr. Trump’s entire presidency, particularly after cryptic comments made by the President after signing the fiscal year 2017 Omnibus Appropriations bill into law.
“Attorney General Jeff Sessions could have moved in to shut down medical marijuana facilities at any point,” says NORML. “Should Sessions crack down, we are confident that we would win a court challenge, given previous rulings on this very question.”
Still, such a move would create some havoc and further increase fear.
Leafly notes that even if prosecutors wanted to take action, given the shutdown it wouldn’t have law enforcement resources to make the arrests.
“In addition, the protections in the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment affect any cases that might be brought during this gap in coverage,” reported Leafly.
While it seems the shutdown may be much ado about nothing for medical cannabis, it does again highlight the ongoing uncertainty the nation’s cannabusinesses and patients operate and live under – and a need for a better solution than the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment.
Update: it seems an end to the shutdown is in sight.