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Marijuana Protections Extended in Government Shutdown Deal

Yesterday, the Senate reached an agreement that would reopen the government after it was shutdown for one entire day. And while the headline of the deal was an extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program, it was a victory for marijuana advocates as well.

As part of the agreement to reopen the government, both the House and Senate approved including the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, which protects medical marijuana businesses operating in states where it's legal. The amendment has been in constant flux since last September, as it is set to expire whenever the current funding for the government ends and needs to be renewed along with a new spending bill.

Of course, this isn't exactly worth celebrating. The new agreement made to reopen the government only lasts until February 8th, only 16 days from now. So Democrats and Republicans will have to negotiate another government funding bill before then, or there will be another government shutdown.

That also means the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment is only active for the next 16 days as well, when once again it will need to be added to whatever spending bill gets passed by Congress.

The best scenario for marijuana advocates would be for Congress to simply pass the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment as a separate bill to make it the law of the land and not require it be included in every budget bill going forward. But considering Republican leadership isn't pro-cannabis, that's unlikely to happen.

The next best scenario would be for Congress to actually pass a spending bill that would fund the government for more than a month or two. A long-term budget deal with the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment included would provide peace of mind for the medical marijuana industry in the United States.

Unfortunately, a long-term deal would require Republicans and Democrats to reach an agreement on immigration, which seems less and less likely considering the Trump administration's stance on the issue.

So we'll probably get another one month extension in 16 days. Yippee!

(h/t Leafly)


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