House Committee Blocks Vote to Protect Medical Cannabis Patients

September 07, 2017 | Beth Collins

U.S. House Committee on Rules Blocks Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment

Washington D.C. --  Last night, the House Committee on Rules voted to not allow a floor vote on an amendment which would continue to prevent the Department of Justice from using funds to interfere with state medical marijuana programs.  The amendment, introduced by Representatives Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) has been part of the appropriations package since 2015.

While the failure to include the amendment in the House is disappointing to medical cannabis advocates, the same amendment, introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), was passed in July in the Senate FY2018 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. The amendment prohibits the use of Federal funds to interfere with medical cannabis patients and programs that are in compliance with state medical cannabis laws.  The Senate version of the appropriations bill with patient protections will be compared to the House version in a conference committee to resolve differences between the two bills before being sent to the President.

The inclusion of this amendment in the final appropriations package would allow state programs to continue the protections afforded to them in the 2015 budget, the 2016 budget, and the 2017 continuing resolution.

“We are deeply disappointed that the House Rules Committee did not include the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, said  Steph Sherer, Americans for Safe Access Executive Director. “Despite bipartisan support and hundreds of millions of Americans agreeing that cannabis should be available as medicine, the members of the Rules committee decided to put partisan politics before patients’ needs. With 91 individuals dying a day from the opioid crisis, and medical cannabis states seeing a nearly 25% decline in opioid overdoses, Justice Department resources would be better spent on other department priorities rather than interfering in legal state-run medical cannabis programs. The failure of the Rules Committee to include protections for patients in their bill only amplifies the need for permanent legislation like the CARERS Act. The Conference Committee must do its job and ensure that protections for medical cannabis patients make it to the President’s desk.”

In response to the news, Representative Blumenauer tweeted, “This isn't over! As House & Senate finalize funding bill, we will fight for patients & to continue critical medical marijuana protections.”

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