How Marijuana Could Affect

How Trump Government Shutdown Threat Could Affect Marijuana

President Donald Trump is threatening to shut the government down if Democrats refuse billions of dollars in funding for a boundary wall — but the consequences of that action would extend much beyond border safety.

If the president makes good on his promise to withhold his signature from essential appropriations bills this moment, that could inadvertently leave the authorized marijuana industry vulnerable to federal drug enforcement actions. A spending bill rider that has shielded state medical cannabis programs from national intervention since 2014 would expire, while the Justice Department and prosecutors would normally remain operational.

That’s because the Department of Justice has a contingency plan in place in the event of a government shutdown, and it exempts many employees, including U.S. attorneys and those who work for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), from furlough.

“Criminal litigation will continue without interruption as an activity essential to the security of human life and the protection of land,” the Justice Department explains in its own contingency plan. U.S. attorneys are protected because they’re presidentially appointed and “are required to address continuing criminal matters and civil matters of urgency throughout the nation.

“All agents in DEA field organizations are excepted from furlough because they encourage active counternarcotics investigations,” the record states.

The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment would not be exempted, however. While five out of the 12 annual appropriation bills for Fiscal Year 2019 have been signed into law by the president, the CJS bill is yet to get House of Senate floor votes.

Typically, the deadline to get appropriations passed is the end of the preceding fiscal year, September 30. But rather than hold a vote or let federal departments to shed funding, lawmakers have passed a series of continuing resolutions throughout 2018, providing temporary funding and pushing back the deadline. The most recent two-week continuing resolution passed on December 7, so the new deadline is December 21.

If lawmakers don’t pass, or President Trump doesn’t signal, either a full-year or temporary extension of funding by then, the medical cannabis rider will expire, but national drug enforcement capabilities will not. And that would leave medical marijuana patients and the companies that serve them in a dicey position.

Similar concerns about the prospect of national marijuana enforcement have been repeatedly raised under the Trump administration. In January 2018, things appeared especially precarious, since the president’s threat of a government shutdown came weeks after then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded an Obama-era memo that provided advice on national cannabis enforcement practices.

That decision stoked fears that a shutdown would enable the Justice Department to act on the attorney general’s vehement opposition to marijuana reform. But after less than three days, a continuing resolution passed and state-legal marijuana actions continued unimpeded.

There’s no telling at this point whether Whitaker, the DEA or federal prosecutors would take advantage of broad exemptions from furlough and crack down on legal medical marijuana states in case of a shutdown. However, as always, the possibility puts the cannabis business in an uncomfortable position.

This guide has been republished from Marijuana Moment under a content syndication agreement. Read the first article here.

Released at Thu, 13 Dec 2018 00:22:49 +0000

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