Experts Available: Congress Extends Protection on Using Federal Funds for Marijuana Crackdown

December 8, 2017

Washington, D.C. – Members of Congress last night extended a measure that prevents Attorney General Jeff Sessions from using federal funds to crack down on legal state medical marijuana policies.

“Using federal resources to fight legal state policy on marijuana is not the most effective way to deploy the government’s time and money,” said Ames Grawert, a counsel in the Brennan Center’s Justice Program. “It’s heartening to see lawmakers recognize that yesterday. Instead, we should be focusing our efforts on reducing violent crime and addressing the opioid crisis, which Sessions rightly flagged as a grave issue.”

The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment (Rohrabacher-Farr) has traditionally had support from a bipartisan group of lawmakers and criminal justice reform advocates. Reauthorizing it through Dec. 22 in yesterday’s budget bill is the latest rebuff to President Trump’s rhetoric, and goes against an explicit request Sessions made earlier this year. In a May letter to Congressional leadership, Sessions cited “an historic drug epidemic” and a “potentially long-term uptick in violent crime” as reasons to let the measure expire.

A Brennan Center report, Criminal Justice in Trump’s First 100 Days, predicted his shift from past enforcement policies, noting that “the resulting intrusion to state policy could upset some Republicans.” It also pushed back on Sessions’ ongoing crime rhetoric, saying that “today, national crime and murder rates are half of what they were at their peak in 1991.” Read more in Crime Trends: 1990-2016 and Crime in 2017: A Preliminary Analysis.

For more information on work by the Brennan Center’s Justice Program, click here.

To set up an interview with a Brennan Center expert, contact Rebecca Autrey at or 646-292-8316.