Last week, Congress passed a bill that would both continue funding the government until December and provide additional resources to those affected by natural disasters. While all those things sound good, there was a hidden benefit in the bill that marijuana advocates will love. The bill passed by Congress also extended a law that prevents the federal government from using resources to crackdown on marijuana in states where its legal.
The law is known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment. It was originally passed in 2014 and was set to expire later this month. While the amendment generated bipartisan support, last week a House committee blocked the amendment from renewal. The Senate included the amendment as part of its debt and disaster relief bill, and while some members of the House spoke out against the amendment, it still passed. And President Donald Trump later signed it into law.
Trump's support of the budget deal was already seen as confusing. The president worked directly with Democrats and largely sidelined Republicans to make the deal. It's also unclear if Trump knew the marijuana protections were in the final bill. It was largely ignored by mainstream reporting about the deal in favor of the debt and disaster portions. And Trump's Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this year advocated for the amendment to expire, which many people believed would lead to a crackdown on legal marijuana by the Justice Department. The president's support of the amendment would be in direct conflict with his top law enforcement official.
But now marijuana advocates will have three extra months to put pressure on Congress to renew the amendment. Considering the vast majority of Americans support marijuana legalization in some form, it should be an easy argument to make.