President Donald Trump issued his first statement on medical marijuana since he took office.
Trump on Friday signed a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill that will keep the federal government funded through September 30.
The congressionally approved bill includes a rider — the Rohrabacher – Blumenauer Amendment — that disallows the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Agency from using federal funds to prosecute medical marijuana businesses in states where medical marijuana is legal.
Marijuana is illegal at the federal level, though 29 states have varying degrees of medical marijuana legalization on the books. The amendment doesn’t extend to recreational marijuana, which is legal in eight states.
“Division B, section 537 provides that the Department of Justice may not use any funds to prevent implementation of medical marijuana laws by various States and territories. I will treat this provision consistently with my constitutional responsibility to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”
Tom Angell, the founder of Marijuana Majority, an advocacy group, told Business Insider he thinks that Trump’s statement is the federal government’s way of “asserting their right” to go after certain medical marijuana businesses if they choose to at a later date.
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Offers a mixed bag for pot smokers. The bill blocks the Justice Department from raiding medical marijuana dispensaries in states that permit them. But it also blocks federal and local spending to legalize marijuana in Washington, D.C., where voters approved recreational use in a November referendum. It’s unclear what the practical effect of the spending ban will be.
Allows some pension plans to cut benefits promised to current and future retirees. The change is designed to save some financially strapped plans from going broke. It applies to multiemployer plans, which cover more than 10 million people mostly at small, unionized employers, often in the construction business.
Allows more money to flow into political parties. Under the new rules, each superrich donor could give almost $1.6 million per election cycle to political parties and their campaign committees. The comparable limit for 2014’s elections was $194,400.
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Continues a ban on spending money on portraits of Cabinet secretaries, Congress members and other big shots, a Washington tradition that some lawmakers felt had gotten out of hand.
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THE CAPITOL DOME:
Topping it all off, spends $21 million to continue restoration of the leaky, cracked U.S. Capitol dome.
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“[M]y read is it’s basically saying they reserve the right to do whatever they want and enforce prohibition regardless of the statutory prohibition on doing so,” Angell said, though he doesn’t think it necessarily indicates a federal crackdown on medical marijuana is coming.
Robert Capecchi, the director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in an email that Congress is growing “increasingly comfortable” with states adopting medical and recreational marijuana policies.
“Unfortunately, spending prohibitions like these expire at the end of the fiscal year, so there is still a need for a long-term solution,” Capecchi added.
Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, told Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper during a private meeting in April that prosecuting state-legal marijuana businesses wouldn’t be a priority for the Justice Department.
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