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Congress cuts Department of Justice’s budget to crack down on medical marijuana

By   /   May 9, 2017  /   News  /   No Comments

Congress has pulled back the reins on the Department of Justice’s notion that it should crack down on the medicinal marijuana industry. Advocates, dispensaries and their clients are relieved.

The U.S. House and Senate are hammering out the details on a spending plan that will get them through September. Lawmakers took criticism for a number of expenditures that conservatives said should be cut, but there was one budget line that was conspicuously zeroed out: the Department of Justice’s budget to enforce federal rules regarding medicinal marijuana. This comes as both President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have been vague in their stances on enforcement of federal law, which still considers weed in the same category as cocaine or heroin.

Beth Collins, senior director of government relations and external affairs at Americans for Safe Access, says this means patients can breathe easier for the next five months.

“Those who are in compliance with state law, the federal government cannot come in and disrupt those programs or patients,” she said.

Bret Bender from the Illinois-based dispensary Maribis said the new attorney general has been the cause for some concern, but not hysteria.

“The appointment of Jeff Sessions specifically, people did seem to have some sort of apprehension,” Bender said. The dispensary manager added that there seems to be more alarm in states where recreational use is the law.

“Since we don’t know, it’s great to have these protections in place so he can’t do anything,” Collins said.

The Senate is expected to vote on the amendment Friday. President Donald Trump’s advisers say they’ll recommend he sign it unless other changes are made. A recent poll by Quinnipiac shows 93 percent of Americans support some form of legal marijuana and 71 percent stated opposition to a federal crackdown on legal marijuana.

The Department of Justice was not immediately available for comment.