Published: Fri, June 16, 2017
National | By Rosalie Gross

Jeff Sessions asked Congress to let him prosecute medical marijuana providers

In March 2017, Tracking Cannabis described a set of comments by Attorney General Sessions in which he indicated his strong skepticism regarding the legalization of recreational cannabis.

In a letter to legislators made public this week, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions asked Congress to get rid of laws that have helped the medical marijuana industry avoid federal prosecution. "The Department must be in a position to use all laws available to combat the transnational drug organizations and risky drug traffickers who threaten American lives".

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) website states that a "scientific study of the chemicals in marijuana, called cannabinoids, has led to two FDA-approved medications that contain cannabinoid chemicals in pill form".

The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals also ruled past year that the DOJ couldn't use funds to prosecute entities on matters regarding medical marijuana, unless those entities are in violation of their state's medical marijuana law. In a letter sent last month to top-ranking representatives and senators, obtained by MassRoots on Monday, Sessions shows his opposition to a budget provision that would prohibit the Justice Department from spending federal cash to crack down on states with legal medical marijuana laws.

As the Washington Post, which independently verified the document, pointed out, Sessions' citing an "historic drug epidemic" as reason to crack down on medical marijuana, still technically a Schedule I drug, of course, is highly misleading.

At a recent meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General, Sessions said he was dubious about marijuana.

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The amendment is often referred to as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, although it is now co-written by Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican from California, and Earl Blumenauer, a Portland Democrat.

Rosenstein also said marijuana remains illegal under federal law, so it's the Justice Department's job to enforce prohibition.

Forbes quoted Doug Fischer, chief legal officer of the National Association of Cannabis Businesses, as saying it seems unlikely that Congress will simply do what Sessions wants on the issue, as "Politically, medical marijuana is a victor, and incredibly popular with the public". According to a Yahoo/Marist poll in April, 83 percent of Americans support legal medical marijuana. It's a classic, bureaucratic Catch-22: The DEA won't change the legal status of marijuana unless the FDA determines its medical usefulness. If it doesn't, the medical marijuana industry, and those who rely on it, will likely be left in the dark about the future of the industry.

Wolf noted that the state's decision to legalize the medical strains of cannabis came about through extensive research into families it would most affect; the children suffering with seizures, the terminal cancer patients. "There really is no basis in fact for AG Sessions' claim".

The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment blocks the Justice Department from stopping states that want to implement marijuana business laws. Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R) has asked the state Supreme Court to review an appeals court ruling that struck down a ban on medical marijuana on college campuses. Sessions's letter was aimed at next year's appropriations measures. A 2016 survey from University of MI researchers, published in the The Journal of Pain, found that chronic pain suffers who used cannabis reported a 64 percent drop in opioid use as well as fewer negative side effects and a better quality of life than they experienced under opioids.

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