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Justice Department still can’t interfere in state medical marijuana laws under new spending bill

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WASHINGTON — The federal spending bill passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump continues the prohibition of the Justice Department from interfering in state medical marijuana laws.

The provision added to the legislation prevents the department, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, from using funds and resources to arrest prosecute patients, caregivers and businesses that are in compliance with respective state medical marijuana laws.

The amendment has been included in each omnibus budget bill since 2014. Medical marijuana is legal in 44 states and the District of Columbia.

The provision does not cover recreational marijuana laws in Colorado and other states where it has been approved.

Attorney General Jeff Session has been hostile toward recreational marijuana, increasing concerns in the industry that the federal government would interfere with the business.

“Renewing protections for state medical marijuana policies is not just good public policy, it’s good politics,” said Don Murphy, director of the Marijuana Policy Project. “The Republican-controlled Congress stuck to its 10th Amendment principles. It is protecting states’ rights to adopt medical marijuana laws by protecting individuals who comply with them from federal prosecution.

“It should welcome the opportunity to expand that protection to individuals complying with any state marijuana law, including those regulating marijuana for adult use.”