The Pennsylvania Department of Health gave approval this week for the first medical cannabis plants to be grown and processed into oil by Cresco-Yeltrah, a Chicago-based company operating in Butler. An implementation deadline for all the cultivators is set for late December.

By a strange coincidence, this will come just weeks after Congress may roll back provisions intended to protect such operations from federal interference.

So, just as Pennsylvania begins sprouting some medical marijuana, Congress could stomp on the garden.

Here’s what you need to know about what’s happening:

The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment and what it does

It all comes down to the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, an obscure part of the massive federal appropriations bill. It defunds Department of Justice actions that would prevent a state from realizing a medical marijuana law.

Sponsored by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Cal.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), and in place since 2013, the language is viewed by many as the only thing preventing the DOJ from raiding dispensaries or even shutting down an entire state’s cannabis program.

The debate over the amendment in Congress

For about 24 hours the amendment was set to expire at the end of September. Medical cannabis patients, advocates and industry folks screamed loudly. While the press followed every move the convoluted subtleties of this federal-level brinksmanship wasn’t easily conveyed.

On September 6, Rep. Rohrabacher made a speech on the House floor, imploring Congress to keep the rider. Then, during meetings with the House GOP to set the voting agenda, the medical marijuana provision was dropped.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, another California Republican, told Roll Call that the concept “split the conference” and was seen as too divisive within the party.

Rohrabacher and Blumenauer issued a statement on September 6:

“This bad decision by the House

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