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Government Shutdown Stops State Medical Marijuana Protections

USA Marijuana

The current federal government shutdown adversely affects more than some federal workers’ paychecks and the national park system–it also affects the federal legal protections for medical marijuana patients.

Every year, since 2014, there has been a rider amendment in the federal spending bill to protect states that have legalized medical marijuana, Forbes notes, and it is only valid when the government is operational.

Language that would extend legal protections for state medical marijuana programs from federal interference is included in a new bill expected to pass this week to end the current government shutdown.

The bill reads: “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.”

The President’s desire to fund a border wall may hold things up. Democrats are not willing to “foot-the-bill” for a border wall. Republicans may not even entertain a bill that doesn’t include funding. It’s unknown how long the government shutdown is expected to last, but until protections are back in place the legal medical marijuana industry is biting its nails.

The future of recreational marijuana in D.C. is also in question.

Justin Strekal of NORML said, “Democratic appropriators have been incredibly receptive to ending the absurd prohibition of allowing the District of Columbia to implement their own laws as voters intended. Those who would seek to maintain this punitive restriction do so against the very foundation of our federalist structure under the Constitution.”

Much speculation about the future of the medical and recreational marijuana industries leaves the industry on-edge. It may be a while before the industry can breathe comfortably again.