In summary

For the fourth time this year, Congress has prevented the Trump administration from arresting medical marijuana users. But for California medical growers and users to feel safe from federal prosecution, Congress will need to act a fifth time before the end of 2017. 

For the fourth time this year, Congress has prevented the Trump administration from arresting medical marijuana users. But for California medical growers and users to feel safe from federal prosecution, Congress will need to act a fifth time before the end of 2017.

Late last week, Congress passed and President Trump signed a temporary spending measure to fund the federal government through December 22. Included in that legislation was the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, which prohibits the Department of Justice from using federal funds to interfere with state-sanctioned medical cannabis operations. The amendment has in one form or another been attached to federal spending bills since 2014, effectively handcuffing DOJ from enforcing a federal prohibition on pot that categorizes the drug in the same class as heroin and other heavy narcotics. California legalized medical marijuana in the 1990’s.

Medical marijuana, photo via Wikimedia Commons

Led by outspoken marijuana critic Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Trump administration has repeatedly chafed at the amendment, issuing signing statements and other official communications challenging its lawfulness.

Cannabis proponents are reportedly confident that Rohrabacher-Blumenauer will again survive a new spending bill, as the provision enjoys bipartisan support. Several prominent California Republicans support the initiative, including Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of Costa Mesa and Rep. Duncan Hunter of Alpine.

The amendment only protects medical marijuana operations. California will fully legalize recreational pot Jan 1.

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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...