Congress saves medical marijuana patients from pot crackdown — for now

Jonathan Bach, Statesman Journal Published 11:59 a.m. PT Dec. 22, 2017

Federal protections for medical marijuana patients are safe for now thanks to an emergency resolution passed by Congress Thursday.

Protections offered under the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment will need to make it into a final congressional spending package to extend past Jan. 19.

That’s the expiration date of Thursday’s continuing resolution, a temporary measure that keeps the government running while federal lawmakers hash out the details of their 2018 fiscal-year spending plan. President Trump signed the emergency resolution Friday.

While weed remains federally illegal, the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment stops the Justice Department from cracking down on patients where state law permits medical marijuana use. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has condemned use of the drug.

More: Seeking pot for pain, Oregon patient feels shortages

U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon, said, “Patients around the country who rely on medical marijuana for treatment — and the businesses that serve them — now have some measure of certainty. Our fight, however, continues to maintain these important protections in the next funding bill passed by Congress.”

Jered DeCamp, who co-owns marijuana retailer Herbal Remedies in South Salem, was happy to hear the news. In addition to being an owner, he’s a medical marijuana patient and grower.

“It’s nice to know they’re protecting us,” DeCamp said, though he wished the provisions extended past January.

Congressional lawmakers passed a similar continuing resolution Dec. 7 to keep the government open through Friday.

The newest extension comes after U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, announced he would cosponsor a bill to decriminalize marijuana across the nation. Passage of the Marijuana Justice Act of 2017 would make the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment obsolete.

More: Sen. Ron Wyden cosponsors bill to legalize marijuana across U.S.

The amendment is named for U.S. Reps. Blumenauer and Dana Rohrabacher, R-California.

Reach staff reporter Jonathan Bach by email at jbach@statesmanjournal.com or by phone at 503-399-6714.

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