In summary

As Congress nears a Friday deadline to avoid a federal government shutdown, an important provision protecting California’s medical marijuana operations hangs in the balance.

As Congress nears a Friday deadline to avoid a federal government shutdown, an important provision protecting California’s medical marijuana operations hangs in the balance.

The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment—which prohibits the federal Justice Department from prosecuting individuals and businesses in state-sanctioned medical marijuana markets—is set to expire at the end of this week unless Congress re-approves it as it funds the government. Originally attached to the 2014 budget package, the bipartisan amendment has provided a legal security blanket for the 29 states that allow medical marijuana in some form despite the drug’s status as a federally banned “Schedule I” controlled substance.

Co-sponsored by California Republican Dana Rohrabacher of Costa Mesa, the amendment was approved by relatively wide margins in a GOP-controlled House in 2014 and 2015. But this year the idea faces renewed scrutiny as key officials from the Trump administration repeatedly express opposition to legalized marijuana. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a longtime pot critic, recently charged a violent crime federal task force with reviewing the Obama administration’s hands-off policies towards weed. Trump’s rumored candidate for “drug czar”, GOP Rep. Tom Marino of Pennsylvania, voted against the amendment while in Congress.

Even if it passes, the amendment still raises questions about federal regard for California’s recreational marijuana industry, which voters legalized last fall. It may be difficult for federal law enforcement to single out businesses involved in both medical and recreational pot.

California lawmakers are currently ironing out how to blend state regulations for both medical and recreational marijuana.

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Matt Levin is the data and housing dude for CalMatters. His work entails distilling complex policy topics into easily digestible charts and graphs, finding and writing original stories from data, yelling...