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Senate Revives Gov’t, and Medical Marijuana Protections, Until Feb. 8

January 22, 2018
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), left, and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), center, struck a bargain that will fund the government through Feb. 8. House Republicans, led by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), right, passed the measure on Monday afternoon. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Senate Democrats and Republicans came to an agreement to end the federal government shutdown on Monday afternoon. By a vote of 81-18 (60 votes were needed), the Senate passed a continuing resolution that keeps the government running for another 17 days.

The next budget vote will have to take place by the end of the day on Feb. 8, or another shutdown may ensue. Today’s deal secured six years of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) program, and rested on the promise that Congress will take up legislation regarding DACA, border security and related issues between now and Feb. 8.

Today's vote keeps federal protections for medical marijuana patients and caregivers in effect until Feb. 8.

The House passed the continuing resolution late Monday afternoon, and President Trump is expected to sign the legislation this evening.

As part of that budget deal, the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, which protects medical cannabis patients and caregivers in legal medical states, is once again in effect—but only until Feb. 8.

“I expect that during this time period, we will be maneuvering on the cannabis issue and the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment,” Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) told Leafly earlier today, as Senate leaders were brokering a deal. “So this is a time for people to make sure that they contact their own member of Congress to make sure that they get behind the amendment for the final bill.”

Rorhabacher said that he hoped Congress won’t just pass another continuing resolution on Feb. 8. “I hope that we come up with an omnibus bill that will include an appropriations bill for the Department of Justice. At that point, then we are safe for eight or nine months. Then hopefully during those eight or nine months, we will pass a regular piece of legislation that will prevent us from jumping through all of these hoops every year.”

Rohrabacher: Looking for ‘Breathing Space’

Those eight or nine months will give legislators a “little bit of breathing space” to lay down the foundation for federal law, he said. “That law will then codify the position and keep it there as a matter of record. It will also allow for people to mobilize, to get behind one piece of legislation. Then everyone can go to their elected officials and say ‘Look. This is what we are demanding’, and actually have a major push.”

Rohrabacher is pushing his own bill, HR 975, “Respect State Marijuana Laws of 2017”, which was introduced nearly a year ago and now has 40 co-sponsors (with 16 new ones since January 8).

“That bill would be putting into law the idea that the states will be the ones that will make the decision, and everybody, not just the Department of Justice, but everybody, like the banking regulators and other regulators, will then have to deal with the cannabis issue just the way they would with any other commodity throughout the states that have designated it that way,” Rohrabacher told Leafly.

'There is a new coalition out there. It's not left or right. It's a coalition of people who believe cannabis should be left up to the states.'
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, (R-CA)

Today’s action leaves the industry at an interesting crossroads. Prior to the Senate deal, Vermont Governor Phil Scott signed into law the first legislature-created bill for recreational marijuana, making it the ninth adult-use state. New Jersey is poised to become the tenth, as their new cannabis-friendly governor takes office. And major pieces of federal cannabis legalization legislation are finally gaining serious traction.

“You now have people who are basing their political action today on political circumstances and coalitions and power dynamics that are decades old,” Rohrabacher told Leafly. “We’ve got to break through that, and get people to realize that there is a new coalition out there that is not Democrat and not Republican and not a left or a right coalition. It’s a coalition of people that have said that the issue of cannabis should be left up to the states, and that the reason why we are pushing for that is because we believe that there is some legitimate uses of cannabis at the very least for medical purposes but also for adults to make their own decision as to what they will consume.”

“We are going to have to create this new coalition,” he said, “and it’s very possible to do it.”

David Hodes's Bio Image

David Hodes

David Hodes is a business and lifestyle writer based in the greater Washington D.C. metropolitan area. He is the former editor of seven different business magazines, and has contributed feature articles to several general business/lifestyle publications as well as a number of national cannabis magazines. He is member of the National Press Club, and deputy booking agent for the National Press Club Headliners Committee.

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  • 360dunk

    Donald Trump: if you have any thoughts of running for re-election, put a short leash on that annoying and yappy little Pomeranian Jeff Sessions, then tug hard till he falls into line obediently. America has spoken…we don’t want to go backwards on the cannabis issue. We enjoy buying our tested product safely in a store and don’t mind paying taxes. Our municipalities also love the industry as it frees law enforcement to focus on real crime and it also brings in much-needed revenue. Cartel presence and strength is minimized with legalization. Everyone wins with legalization….without it the losers are many, including yourself in the next election. Mr. Trump, it’s time to send Jeff Sessions to obedience school.

    • Truepatriot_56

      Hace you contacted your senators and reps? Sessions has every right to do what he is doing. You should be talking to your idiot congressmen, they can fix the problem permanently. I hope sessions cracks down HARD! Maybe this will wake up braindead voters to start putting enormous pressure on reps & senators, make the spineless trash actually do their jobs, and represent the people. Then the feds would be outta the picture all together. Folks like you seem to be ignorant of how the government works. The executive branch enforces the laws passed by congress. Crying about the laws being enforced by the attorney general just shows you have no concept of how the government works. Try crying to the people that make the laws, instead of crying about the laws being enforced. I’d wager that you and the other people posting here have never made a single effort to talk to your congressmen and senators.

      • 360dunk


      • 360dunk

        A true patriot supports freedom of choice… don’t. If you were around in the 1930’s, you would have publicly screamed how alcohol is against the federal law and drinkers should be thrown in jail.

        The only valid point you made here was to inundate your local politicians with letters and phone calls. By the way, ‘True Patriot’, 11 million ‘visitors’ are here illegally, which is against federal law. Obviously, the feds pick and choose which laws to enforce. So why would you call for banning dispensaries and remain silent on other issues the feds ignore?

      • 360dunk

        Buzz off, True ldiot….you have no idea which politicians I’ve harangued over the years.

  • Jacek R

    All of these men and women in Congress are grown adults. They are living the good life, and you and I (the taxpayers) are paying for it. They are professionals…..most of them attorneys. They know the law, and they know how the game is played. They get paid top dollar over and under the table.They get health benefits that are superior to most Americans. They know the truth about drugs. They know about the opioid epidemic, and how companies like Purdue Pharma are making mega profits off of the American abuse and easy availability to obtain opioids. They are not going after CEO’s of these pharmaceutical corporations. Instead, they are going after the little guy, the marijuana smoker ….keeping the corporately owned jails in the black. We are being lied to on many levels. Keep your eyes open, and vote out the corrupt wrongdoers. This Cannabis extension until Feb 8 is a cheap little carrot on a stick. Ask your politicians about their stance on cannabis. If you don’t like their answer, don’t allow them to remain pompous and adamant, instead vote them out.

  • Mo Jo

    I’m sorry, but help me wrap my mind around this: the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer is passed on an annual basis, for one year at a time. Even if the government shuts down the bill STILL protects medical cannabis. Yet we keep hearing about how the government is funded for a couple weeks, therefore our medical protections extend this long. It’s as if the authors of these articles are suggesting that the second the Federal government shuts down, all Federal laws are immediately moot and void??? That makes no sense at all.

  • Paul Oglesbee

    It’s rediculous that this is even an issue. Marijuana should have been taken off the controlled substance list. A long time ago

    • 360dunk

      It’s only a matter of time before this travesty is fixed. Meanwhile, more and more states are evolving and enjoying the revenue windfall that dispensaries bring. Dinosaurs like Jeff Sessions will soon be placed in a pasture with the other near-extinct beasts where he can quietly graze and let smarter people decide our nation’s destiny.

  • Truepatriot_56

    I’m tired of hearing idiots complain about trump. If the senators & reps from all the medical & recreational states would sponsor a bill in congress to remove all federal laws on weed, it would then be totally up to the states. These senators and reps are too stupid and scared to do their jobs. The crap obama did was just a pr stunt, useless! Left as is, the weed enforcement at the fed level will change as administrations change. This is insanity. You people need to mercilessly harange your senators and reps to remove the federal government from the equation. They are tired of me because once a month, myself and others get on the phone & puter and push them to represent the will of the people in congress. If you people don’t get involved, you are stupid and lazy, and don’t deserve to smoke weed.

    • 360dunk

      I’m the only ‘idiot’ complaining about Trump on this thread. If you run a company and your employee is so stupid that he or she costs you customers and money, then you get rid of the malcontent. Well, Trump is running a company called America and his idiot employee can’t seem to focus on his real job. Jeff Sessions should be battling organized crime, white collar crime, criminal street gangs….you know, people who victimize other people. He should realize the will of Americans and leave dispensaries alone. He doesn’t do that so he should be fired, just like any other foolish employee.

      • Truepatriot_56

        This is a constitutional republic, not a privately owned company. It’s obvious that you have no idea what’s going on. Through a lot of hard work, we here in the bible belt state of arkansas, got medical marijuana passed against the wishes of our backward state government. We didn’t win by going on web sights and crying like a baby, that accomplishes absolutely nothing. Criticising the people whose job it is to enforce the law accomplishes nothing. We need to put pressure on our elected officials to change the law, you can shoot off an email in the time it takes to make a post on some websight, or make a call to your senator or rep.
        You need to lose the notion that a nation and a privately owned business are the same. If you’re sincere about wanting change, get involved. Do you even know who your senators and the rep from your district is?

        • Brand Strong

          TrueIDIOT, you obviously don’t pay attention because there are bills on the floor of the House and the Senate asking to remove cannabis from the CSA. The Marijuana Justice Act is available in both houses. YOU THINK THIS IS A CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC? A DEMOCRACY? You would be sadly mistaken at both assumptions. As always, you are just a pure idiot who hates freedom. Your Medical Marijuana Laws in Arkansas are garbage because they are being written by a corrupt bunch of scammers in Little Rock. There isn’t a ballot amendment process for citizens to get ballot initiatives on the federal election for national rule you moron. What you seen happen in Arkansas was that. So STFU. Pete Sessions, a Bible Belt Republican d!ckh#%d is blocking all Bills concerning marijuana. Maybe YOU should talk to him since you are so good at this sh**. This country is a privately owned business – owned by the Billionaires. If you can’t recognize that, you really are an ignorant dipsh**.