In this April 20, 2017, file photo, in celebration of the 4/20 holiday bud-tenders help customers at ShowGrow, a medical marijuana dispensary in downtown Los Angeles.

Cannabis businesses in western states ask Congress for protection

SEATTLE — A group representing marijuana business owners in the West is urging Congress to include language in a government spending bill that would protect cannabis operations.

The Western Regional Cannabis Business Alliance said Tuesday it is asking for legislative protection after Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ signaled a tougher approach to federal marijuana enforcement. Earlier this month Sessions said he was ending an Obama-era policy that kept federal authorities from cracking down on the pot trade in states where the drug is legal.

The marijuana business group wants lawmakers to include language in an appropriations bill that would prohibit the Justice Department from spending money to thwart marijuana businesses in states where it is legal. The Western Regional Cannabis Business Alliance represents marijuana businesses in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Hawaii, Montana and Arizona.

Related: Nearly 70 Congress members push spending bill amendment to protect state-legal marijuana