On Thursday, the House had passed a continuing resolution to the Appropriations Act which would have kept the government funded through February 16, 2018. That resolution kept in tact the protections for state medical marijuana programs from prosecutions by the Department of Justice, by restricting its funding. The Senate, however, would not agree to the resolution (because it included protections for young immigrants from importation) and the government has shutdown as of midnight on Friday.
The protection for medical marijuana operators that is typically included in the government’s budget, known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment (f/k/a Rohrabacher – Farr Amendment), provides that none of the funds made available to the Department of Justice in the Appropriations Act may be used to prevent states from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.
This provision had been contained in the appropriations act (Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017, PL 115-31, Division B section 537), which funded the Department of Justice and other government departments through September 30, 2017. The provision was carried over through the appropriations act (Appropriations Act 2018, PL 115-56, Division D, section 101(a)(2)) that funded the Department through December 8, 2017, and was thereafter extended by Congress through two continuing resolutions through January 19, 2018. With the failure to pass a resolution to continue funding the Justice Department, the limitations on that funding, including those provided by the Rohrabacher Amendment, have no effect (since no funds have currently been approved to begin with).
This may raise more questions in the marijuana industry given Attorney General Jeff Session’s rescission of the Cole Memorandum on January 4th. The Cole Memorandum had provided guidance to federal prosecutors not to enforce federal marijuana laws against those marijuana businesses that were compliant with state law where the federal priorities were not implicated. Based on that rescission, the U.S. Treasury Department, on January 17th, stated that it is reviewing the FinCen guidance for financial institutions that provide services to marijuana businesses. Continue reading Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment On Hold; FinCen Guidance Reviewed; and Cole Memo Rescinded