Yesterday, details of the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget were released. Congress has once again elected to prohibit the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) from spending money on actions that prevent medical marijuana states giving practical effect to their state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana. Congress also continued existing provisions shielding state industrial hemp research programs from federal interference. Adult-use was left off.
What does this mean?
It’s a nice reassurance for industrial hemp/medical marijuana businesses, their employees and patients acting in compliance with state rules. Note, this does not prevent the DOJ from using funds to prevent adult-use marijuana programs. However, just last week, a bipartisan group of 59 lawmakers wrote a letter that the DOJ should be blocked from enforcing federal marijuana prohibition in states that have enacted legalization, medical AND adult-use. It is still unclear when there will be enough appetite in Congress to get adult-use marijuana shielded from the DOJ, but I remain hopeful.