While cannabis remains a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law, 4 recent events at the national level point to growing support to allow states to determine their own legal cannabis regimes without federal interference.
1) Congress Extends the Rohrbacher-Blumenauer Amendment in the Federal Omnibus Spending Bill
In late March, Congress passed and President Trump signed a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill, which included a provision to extend the protections of the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment through September 2018. The Amendment, first signed into law in 2014 and renewed each year since, prohibits the Department of Justice from spending federal funds to interfere with the implementation of state medical cannabis laws. In the only judicial opinion concerning the Amendment, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that, through the Amendment, Congress intended to stop federal enforcement measures against medical cannabis providers in states that have legalized and regulated medical cannabis. Please note, the Amendment applies only to medical cannabis activities, not recreational/adult-use activities.
2) Trump Backs Legislation to Support Legal Cannabis Regimes
President Trump reportedly promised to support legislation protecting the cannabis industry in states with legal cannabis regimes. U.S. Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado said that Trump promised support for “a federalism-based legislative solution” to respect the rights of states that enacted commercial cannabis regimes.
3) FDA Panel Votes Unanimously in Favor of Experimental Cannabis-derived Medication
At the agency level, an expert panel unanimously recommended that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approve a new cannabis-derived drug used to treat two “rare and devastating forms of epilepsy.” The drug, whose active ingredient is CBD and does not contain any THC, would be the first drug derived from cannabis to win federal approval in the United States. The FDA will make a final decision by the end of June.
4) Sen. Chuck Schumer to Introduce New Bill to Decriminalize Cannabis
Finally, U.S. Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, announced that he will soon introduce legislation to decriminalize cannabis. While the bill has not yet been released, Senator Schumer promised that the bill would remove cannabis from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s list of controlled substances, in effect removing cannabis from the class of Schedule I drugs. The bill would also provide funding for minority and women-owned businesses, in addition to providing funding for research.
While cannabis still remains illegal under federal law, Congress, federal agencies, and the president are supporting progressive cannabis policies. If you have any questions about the legal cannabis regime in California, please contact the attorneys at Rogoway Law Group, a full-service law firm serving the cannabis industry.