As expected, language in the $1.8 trillion federal spending bill recently passed by Congress seeks to protect patients in medical marijuana states such as California.
The bill is expected to be signed by President Obama.
One of the so-called riders in the legislation was a renewal of last years protections, co-authored by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher of Orange County and Sam Farr of Carmel, California.
It essentially prohibits the Department of Justice from using federal funds to enforce drug laws against medical marijuana businesses operating legitimately in states where medical pot is legal.
Another rider would prevent the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration from using federal funds to interfere with state hemp research.
However, critics noted that the spending bill will not include amendments that sought to allow U.S. Veterans Affairs doctors to prescribe medical marijuana and that sought to allow banks to do business with marijuana businesses in states where they’re legal.
A federal ban on legalizing pot in Washington, D.C. was renewed, too, as part of the spending legislation.
Some in the decriminalization community were pleased with the bill, however.
“Patients who benefit from medical marijuana should not be treated like dangerous criminals, and the businesses that support them need to be protected from the old drug war mentality that still runs deep within the DEA,” said Neill Franklin, executive director for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). “It’s very encouraging to see such widespread support for protecting state’s rights and the rights of patients.”