Updates From DC: Congress Could Pass MMJ Protections This Week

Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice won’t be touching your medicinal marijuana anytime soon, at least not if Congress passes its newly unveiled stopgap budget bill.

In the bill, lawmakers included a provision that allows states to carry on with crafting their own medicinal cannabis policies without having to worry about the feds cracking down and intervening.

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Here is the full text of the new medical marijuana provision, known as the Rohrabacher–Blumenauer amendment (formerly Rohrabacher–Farr):

None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to any of the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, or with respect to the District of Columbia, Guam, or Puerto Rico, to prevent any of them from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.

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The provision is one of the few drug war reforms Congress has managed to get behind. Lawmakers have now renewed the medical marijuana provision in every consecutive budget since it first passed, in 2014. While it fails to protect state-legal cannabis for adult use, it indicates Congress’s willingness to allow states to proceed with medical legalization, despite indications that Sessions, who famously said that “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” wants to crack down on state systems.

In at least one legal state, lawmakers have put in place an unusual plan aimed at extending the amendment’s protection to adult-use cannabis. In Colorado, a recently passed law would allow all adult-use cannabis businesses to immediately be reclassified as medical marijuana businesses in the event of federal enforcement action.

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US Rep. Jared Polis to Host Full Day of Cannabis Panels

Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) is hosting an expo and series of panels on Capitol Hill on Wednesday focusing on the need to legalize cannabis federally. The Marijuana Big Thinker Talks will be conducted from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Rayburn House Office Building. The event will feature medical experts, analysts, business leaders, athletes, and officials from the local, state and federal level.

“Times have changed over the past few years, and I’m thrilled to be hosting the first ever Marijuana Big Thinker Talks at the United States Capitol,” Polis, a founding member of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, said in a statement. “I hope lawmakers will use these discussions as a resource to understand the legitimacy of the cannabis industry. Now that a majority of Americans reside in a part of the country that has legalized medical or recreational cannabis, it’s time for Congress to act and pass federal cannabis legislation.”

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Polis will serve as the keynote speaker, along with Rick Upchurch, an NFL legend and founder of the Gridiron Cannabis Foundation, and Al Harrington, a former NBA player and cannabis activist.

Schedule: 

8:30 a.m. —  Authenticity and Advocacy: Gail Rand, patient advocate for ForwardGro.

9 a.m. — How to Neutralize Third Rail Issues like Drug Policy Reform for Elected Officials: Sanho Tree, director of drug policy project at the Institute for Policy Studies.

9:30 a.m. — The Use of Medical Cannabinoids & Health Care Options in Regulated States: Dr. Ken Miller & Nial DeMena, Manna Molecular Science.

10 a.m. — Marijuana Business 101: How to pay your 80% Income Tax Rate in Cash to the IRS – A Primer:  Rachel Gillette, cannabis attorney with Greenspoon Marder P.A.

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10:30 a.m. — Immigration Policy and Marijuana Convictions: Stan Garnett, Boulder County D.A.

11 a.m. — Let’s Stop Asking “Should we Legalize Marijuana?”: Andrew Freedman, co-founder and partner, Freedman Koski Inc.

11:30 a.m. — Marijuana, Veterans, and Healthy Living: Mikey Sorensen and Keven Roelfs, veteran philanthropists

12:15 p.m.  — Keynote Conversation: Congressman Jared Polis, NFL Legend Rick Upchurch, founder of the Gridiron Cannabis Foundation, and Al Harrington, former NBA player and cannabis activist

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