There’s no money to build President Trump’s fabled U.S.-Mexico border wall in the new congressional spending bill. And while it does not do much for protecting our borders, the bill is still protecting our buds.
In the $1 trillion agreement which is 1,665 pages long, and which has stopped the federal government’s shutdown, there’s no mention of expanding the border wall, and there’s no money being given to medical marijuana either. What there is is a cap on funding to the Justice Department when it comes to its interference in state-approved medical cannabis programs and industrial hemp operations.
The previously implemented “Rohrabacher-Farr” amendment is continued in the spending bill. That provision “prevents the Justice Department from using funds to hinder the implementation of medical marijuana laws in U.S. states and territories,” as reported by The Cannabist.
In addition, The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017 prohibits the DOJ and DEA from using federal funds to police industrial hemp while it’s being processed, sold, or transported.
These inclusions don’t change much for the cannabis industry, but they do keep things status quo, at least until this September, when the fiscal year covered by the spending agreement expires. According to the BBC, Democrats in congress claim they killed 160 “poison pill riders” in the budget (policies which would have cut off funding to stuff they like or provided funding to stuff they don’t like).
The cannabis provisions may be two of those poison pills. In addition to the minor marijuana wins, Democrats kept funding for Planned Parenthood, increased funding for the National Institutes of Health, and secured money to assist Puerto Rico’s Medicaid program and fight opioid addiction.
“Medical marijuana patients and the businesses that support them now have a measure of certainty,” Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), an MMJ advocate and supporter of Rohrabacher-Farr, said in a statement. “But this annual challenge must end. We need permanent protections for state-legal medical marijuana programs, as well as adult-use.”
Supporters of the cannabis initiative hope that next year’s spending bill might provide more long-term protection for the policies when its proposed this fall, right around the same time President Trump says we’ll finally get money for that wall.
Photo via Flickr user nyuhuhuu