States turn to unenforced federal law to slow medical marijuana legalization – Roll Call

Medical Cannabis Legalisation

“States are authorizing conduct that is prohibited under federal law, so at first blush, I can see how this could be confusing and surprising, but at this point, two-thirds of the country have implemented comprehensive medical marijuanalaws,” says Karen O’Keefe, state policy director for the Marijuana Policy Project, a pro-legalization advocacy group that lobbied for the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment.

The rider halted most raids involving medical marijuana in states with legalization.

The patients and providers who cultivate, process and dispense the cannabis these patients rely on in these states for the treatment of debilitating illness do not have to fear federal charges as long as they are in compliance with state law, says Sean Khalepari, regulatory affairs coordinator for the pro-medical marijuana group Americans for Safe Access.

But the unusual nature of the provision is not well understood, some say.

Confusion reigns

It took more than a decade for Congress to pass the amendment, named for its sponsors, former California Reps. Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican, and Sam Farr, a Democrat. After some Republican lawmakers voiced support, it passed the House narrowly in 2014 and was preserved in a final appropriations deal. President Barack Obama signed it into law.