The End of Rohrabacher-Farr

The Beginning of the Apocalypse?

By Art Cosgrove
Oregon Cannabis Connection

The Rohrabacher-Farr budget amendment is set to expire on April 28th, and without congressional re-approval, a dangerous new wind may be blowing through the cannabis industry.

Rohrabacher-Farr essentially says that federal funds can’t be used by the Government to go after people who are following their state’s cannabis laws. Backed by a Republican, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, and Democrat, Rep. Sam Farr, both from California, as well as Democrat from New York, Rep. Maurice Hinchey, the bill was both a major breakthrough for bi-partisanship as well as progressive cannabis policy. But since it is a budget amendment, and not an amendment to the actual Controlled Substances Act, it has to get re-authorized every year.

Now doesn’t seem to be the best time to have to bring it up for a vote, as the ascension of the Trump Administration seems to be going against the grain of their otherwise populist message.

New Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently sent shockwaves through the cannabis world when he did a press conference where he brought up “violence” surrounding interstate marijuana trade from states where it’s legal, like Colorado to bordering states where it isn’t, like Oklahoma and Nebraska.

Sessions went on to intimate that the federal government could still choose at any time to crack down on state level cannabis industries in states where it has been legalized recreationally or just medically.

Leland Berger, a Portland area attorney working with NORML, commented on the issue. “Rohrabacher-Farr is going to expire in April. There’s hope that it’ll be renewed. In congress, Earl Blumenauer (D) [Oregon], along with Rep. Jared Polis (D) of Denver, and Republicans Dana Rohrabacher and Don Young, have formed the congressional cannabis caucus.”

The caucus is going to deal with three major areas, according to a press conference they held in February. They’re centered on keeping the Federal Government from interfering with research into the potential benefits of medical cannabis, access for veterans to medical cannabis, and the practical business needs of cannabis industry participants. This last item specifically deals with Rohrabacher-Farr and ending the provisions that cause cannabusiness owners to pay higher effective tax rates and have to pay them with cash due to banking prohibitions.
Blumenauer will be doing some public appearances to talk about the caucus and these issues, including an event called Toke Talks, which he’s keynoting at the Aladdin Theater in Portland, on April 24th.

“I think he’ll be talking about whether Rohrabacher Farr is likely to be renewed or not,” says Berger, “I’m hopeful that it will.”

Some, including Berger, aren’t even sure Attorney General Sessions will still be the AG for long. “The fact that there’s a question of whether he lied under oath during his confirmation hearing has resulted in the filing of a bar complaint in Alabama,” he says.

If Sessions loses his license to practice law in Alabama, he would likely have to cede the position altogether.
That all may be wishful thinking though, and business owners won’t breathe easy until Rohrabacher-Farr is re-approved and more permanent measures are taken to protect the legality of cannabis in states where the citizenry have voted for it.

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