If legislators in the U.S. Congress can come to an agreement regarding the passage of a stopgap spending bill that will keep the federal government from shutting down, the extension will likely include provisions that prevents the Justice Department from going after medical marijuana patients and providers who are in accordance with their state laws.
For the past couple of years these provisions have gutted the federal medical marijuana crackdown that characterized President Obama’s first term in office. Given the uncertainty surrounding the incoming Trump Administration, this could be a very welcome bit of good news.
The extension, however, would only last until the end of March 2017. This will give the Trump White House time to deliver their input into what they think Congress should do budget-wise. It is unclear if the medical marijuana provisions would survive that process, although they did enjoy bipartisan support in the current Congress.
From a practical point of view, if the Trump Administration is going to go after medical or recreational legalization, it would be smart of them to do it sooner rather than later. The longer the legal cannabis industry has to take root, so to speak, the harder it will be to dislodge. And once recreational sales begin in 2018 in places like California, Nevada and Massachusetts, one would think the proverbial pot train has left the station.
The point is, any extension of protections are a good thing, not only for those who are protected, but from a strategic point of view as well. The Trump Administration has a lot to deal with, including a sizeable portion of the U.S. population that dislikes the new President immensely. From illegal immigration to the economy to wars overseas, it’s hard to imagine the Trump Administration wasting a lot of time or resources taking down the legal marijuana industry.
But just because something may be hard to imagine doesn’t mean it’s not a very real threat.