On Friday, federal lawmakers were trying to hurry things up as they reached the end of the day and the deadline for the United States’s new budget and spending bill. Amid the legislation and all of the feisty debates were sundry amendments geared towards providing security for states that have already legalized marijuana for both recreational and medical uses.
One of the more interesting proposals, which was also in the spending bill last year, would allow neither the Department of Justice nor the Drug Enforcement Administration to use federal funds in order to cause issues in states that have already legalized medical marijuana. The measure – called the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, was proposed with the goal of having the federal government respect when a state decides to legalize cannabis. The main issue this would stop would be Americans’ tax dollars being used to get rid of dispensaries and prosecute patients.
However, this amendment has been a huge issue for the last year because of various interpretations from the Department of Justice.
A spokesperson for the Department of Justice informed The Los Angeles Times that the amendment only halts the department from “impeding the ability of states to carry out their medical marijuana laws,” yet it did not strip them of the power of being able to stop the medical marijuana industry. As a result, Rohrabacher and Farr sent a strongly worded letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, asking him to bring the Department of Justice “back into compliance with federal law.”
This letter was ignored, and the Drug Enforcement Administration continue to make busts. However, in October, a federal judge in California ruled to the benefit of the medical marijuana community, stating that the Department of Justice’s interpretation of the law “defies language and logic” and that their ways are “at odds with the fundamental notions of the rule of law.”