Medical cannabis patients and businesses are protected from federal intervention after President Trump signed the country's new spending bill into law Friday. The more than 2,200 page Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 included expanded language for medical cannabis and hemp production.
Specifically, Section 538 of the bill extends protections to 46 states - more states than ever before - as well as adding Guam and Puerto Rico. Also known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, the section has been included in spending bills since it was first passed in 2014.
The amendment covers 98 percent of the United States' population, while the original 2014 amendment covered about 61 percent of the country's population at the time.
New Mexico was one of the original 36 states to be included in the 2014 section, and now all of its bordering states have been extended protections from federal interference. Only Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota were not mentioned in the bill.
"In a time of such great political discord and dissension on so many topics, it is refreshing to see near universal agreement on the commitment to protect and expand medical cannabis," said Duke Rodriguez, CEO and President of Ultra Health®. "Ideally, New Mexico and other states will exercise the political boldness to make the needed next step by legalizing for adults the social use of cannabis."
"SEC. 538. None of the funds made available under this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to any of the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, or with respect to the District of Columbia, Guam, or Puerto Rico, to prevent any of them from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana."
Fifty-nine House Republicans and Democrats want to push even further and grant protections to states with legalized cannabis for social use.
"We are concerned about the Department of Justice enforcing federal marijuana law in a way that blocks implementation of marijuana reform laws in those states that have passed such reforms," the bipartisan group wrote in a letter. "The issue at hand is whether the federal government's marijuana policy violates the principles of federalism and the Tenth Amendment. Consistent with those principles, we believe that states ought to retain jurisdiction over most criminal justice matters within their borders. This is how the Founders intended our system to function."
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