By Brooke Edwards Staggs | Orange County Register
and Lisa Krieger, The Mercury News
Published: May 1, 2017 at 10:14 pm | Updated: May 3, 2017 at 1:17 pm

Medical marijuana advocates are relieved that a bipartisan spending deal to fund the government through September also extended an amendment that protects them from federal prosecution.

The so-called Rohrabacher-Farr amendment blocks the Department of Justice from spending money on medical marijuana prosecutions. If growers and dispensaries carefully follow state rules, they shouldn’t have to worry about the feds coming after them.

The amendment, however, does not apply to the recreational use of marijuana, which California approved through Proposition 64 in November, and which remains vulnerable to federal prosecution. And, while it offers short-term security to medical marijuana patients and business owners, it doesn’t provide long-term security for the industry, which feels increasingly threatened under the Trump Administration.

In 2014 and 2015, With that measure in place, federal authorities have largely let states carry out their own marijuana legalization schemes even though cannabis remains illegal nationally.

If Congress hadn’t re-authorized the amendment Sunday as part of a short-term spending package, those protections would have expired.

The protection — which also covers the hemp industry — extends until the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.

Advocates of medical cannabis said they were pleased that Congress is maintaining the status quo.

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