Federal Medical Marijuana Protections Expire This Month

 In Dispensaries, Legalization, Medical Marijuana, MMJ, National News, News, Regulation

Three weeks.

That’s how long until a law that protects people who are following state medical marijuana laws from being prosecuted by the federal government is set to expire.

First enacted in 2014 and then again in 2015, the provision prevents the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and other Department of Justice agencies from spending money to interfere with the implementation of state medical cannabis laws.

But the amendment is only temporary, applying to specific years’ appropriations bills, and must be re-enacted annually. The current fiscal year ends on September 30 — just 23 days from now — and there’s no guarantee that Congress will include the medical marijuana protections in the spending legislation covering Fiscal Year 2017.

“There is a lot at stake for patients and nobody seems to be noticing,” Mike Liszewski of Americans for Safe Access (ASA) told Marijuana.com.

Here’s how the measure appears in the current fiscal year’s bill:

Sec. 542. None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to any of the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin, or with respect to either the District of Columbia or Guam, to prevent any of them from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.

Last month a federal court ruled — over Justice Department objections — that the provision doesn’t merely block the U.S. government from stopping states from passing their own medical marijuana laws but also prevents federal prosecutors from going after patients and providers who are operating in accordance with those local policies.

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