By Lisa Ellis and Nikki Kean | Practical Pain Management
The new year has brought reasons to celebrate for medical marijuana proponents. A flurry of activity occurred at the end of 2015, including Congressional passage of the Rohrabacker-Farr amendment (H.R. 83, Sec. 538)1 and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) easing restrictions for medical marijuana research.2
According to an article in Forbes, the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment was part of a omnibus spending bill passed in December 2015.3 The amendment prevents the federal government—in this case the Justice Department and the DEA—from prosecuting medical marijuana patients and distributors who are in compliance with their state laws. Whether this amendment, which remains in effect for the fiscal year, effectively lifts the federal ban on medical marijuana is not entirely clear.
“In the near term, these changes likely mean little for the average medical marijuana patient,” said M. Ryan Hurley, Partner at Rose Law Group pc and Chairman of Rose Law Group’s Medical Marijuana Department in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“The Department of Justice [DOJ] refuses to recognize that the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment prevents them from utilizing federal funds to prosecute MM [medical marijuana] patients and providers in states where MM is legal, despite a court ruling to the contrary in California,” Mr. Hurley told Practical Pain Management.