A bipartisan group of 44 members of the U.S. House sent a letter to Congressional leaders this week asking them to continue restricting the Department of Justice’s ability to harass medical marijuana patients and providers who are complying with state laws.

Since late 2014, federal appropriations law has restricted the ability of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and other Justice Department agencies from spending money to interfere with state medical cannabis policies.

“We believe such a policy is not only consistent with the wishes of a bipartisan majority of the members of the House, but also with the wishes of the American people,” the lawmakers, led by Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), wrote to House Appropriations Committee Chairman John Culberson (R-TX) and Ranking Member José Serrano (D-NY).

The amendment passed twice on the floor of the House of Representatives with broad bipartisan majorities, and has also been approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Funding for the federal government for current Fiscal Year 2017 —- including the medical cannabis provision — is set to expire on April 28. Most observers expect Congress to pass a continuing resolution extending most funding levels and policy riders through September 30, the end of the fiscal year.

Thus the new letter from medical cannabis supporters in Congress is focused on funding for Fiscal Year 2018.

In the next few weeks, President Trump will release his first full budget request to Congress, and he will have to decide whether to suggest that lawmakers delete the medical cannabis protections or continue them into the next fiscal year.

Wheres President Obama’s administration in its second term took a generally hands-off approach to state marijuana laws, his last two budget requests deleted the medical marijuana provisions.

But current White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has suggested on a number of occasions that Trump understands the value of medical cannabis, even going so far as to specifically reference the appropriations rider that protects people following state laws.

As it turns out, Rohrabacher and Trump met for 45 minutes in the Oval Office last week, but a spokesman in the congressman’s office told MassRoots that marijuana policy “wasn’t discussed.”

Last month, as Rohrabacher and Blumenauer’s offices were circulating the letter amongst colleagues for signatures, the prohibitionist group Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) issued a threat, saying they would “investigate” cannabis industry campaign financing ties for any lawmaker who added their name.

That threat doesn’t appear to have had much effect, and now the group has its work cut out for it in digging into campaign funding records for nearly four dozen members of Congress.

SAM officials did not respond to MassRoots’s query about when the group intends to complete its research or issue an exposé. (SAM’s lobbying arm itself is facing fines from the state of California for alleged campaign finance violations perpetrated as part of its failed effort to defeat a marijuana legalization ballot initiative last year.)

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled last year that the medical marijuana amendment protects people and businesses that are acting in compliance with state laws, going further than the Department of Justice’s interpretation which argued that it only stopped the federal government from going after state officials who are implementing laws and provided no comfort to individual medical cannabis patients or providers.

But that ruling currently only applies to the jurisdictions that fall under the Ninth Circuit — Alaska, Arizona, California, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Northern Mariana Island, Oregon and Washington State — and hasn’t been tested in other parts of the country or at the Supreme Court.

To add further clarity, the supportive lawmakers are requesting that the amendment’s language be expanded to read:

“None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used to enforce federal prohibitions involving the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of marijuana for medical purposes that are permitted by the laws of the state, the District of Columbia, or U.S. territory where the act was committed, or to prevent states, the District of Columbia, or U.S. territories from implementing their own laws that permit the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of marijuana for medical purposes.”

A full list of signatories of the new letter is below:

Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)

Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)

Steve Cohen (D-TN)

Duncan Hunter (R-CA)

John Conyers (D-MI)

Mike Coffman (R-CO)

Jackie Speier (D-CA)

Thomas Massie (R-KY)

Brian Higgins (D-NY)

Don Young (R-AK)

Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)

Barbara Lee (D-CA)

Jerold Nadler (D-NY)

Diana DeGette (D-CO)

Peter DeFazio (D-OR)

Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.)

Dina Titus (D-NV)

Jered Polis (D-CO)

Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ)

Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)

Jared Huffman (D-CA)

Michael Capuano (D-MA)

Ed Perlmutter (D-CO)

Mark Pocan (D-WI)

Darren Soto (D-FL)

Beto O’Rourke (D-TX)

Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)

Scott Peters (D-CA)

Joseph Crowley (D-NY)

Ted Yoho (R-FL)

Jacky Rosen (D-NV)

Denny Heck (D-WA)

Jason Lewis (R-MN)

Jim McGovern (D-MA)

Pramila Jayapal (D-WA)

Salud Carbajal (D-CA)

Justin Amash (R-MI)

Alan Lowenthal (D-CA)

Eric Swalwell (D-CA)

Jamie Raskin (D-MD)

Donald S. Beyer Jr. (D-VA)

Rod Blum (R-IA)

Tom McClintock (R-CA)

Jimmy Panetta (D-CA)

This story has been updated to include comment from Rohrabacher’s office.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Share This
[data-image-id='gourmet_bg']
[data-image-id='gourmet_bg']
[data-image-id='gourmet_bg']
[data-image-id='gourmet_bg']
[data-image-id='gourmet_bg']
[data-image-id='gourmet_bg']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']