Senate Committee

On May 1, Attorney General Jeff Sessions wrote a letter to Congressional leaders opposing the federal budget provision that protects state medical-marijuana programs. First obtained by Massroots, the letter urged them not to adopt the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, which prohibits the Justice Department from using federal funds to enforce drug laws against state-legal medical cannabis businesses.

“I believe it would be unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the Department to fund particular prosecutions, particularly in the midst of an historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime,” Sessions wrote. “The Department must be in a position to use all laws available to combat the transnational drug organizations and dangerous drug traffickers who threaten American lives.”

The amendment, sponsored by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) has passed every year since 2014. President Donald Trump has hinted that he might respect state medical-marijuana programs, but Sessions has repeatedly criticized state-level cannabis-law reforms and disregarded the science on marijuana.

“Mr. Sessions stands against an overwhelming majority of Americans and even, sadly, against veterans and other suffering Americans who we now know conclusively are helped dramatically by medical marijuana,” a spokesperson for the amendment’s co-sponsor Rep. Dana Rohrabacher stated.

On July 27, the panel voted to extend the amendment for another year.

On July 24, Sessions wrote to the governors of Colorado, Oregon and Washington, blaming increased traffic fatalities and emergency-room visits on their states’ legalization of adult use of marijuana. “Congress has determined that marijuana is a dangerous drug, and that illegal distribution and sale of marijuana is a crime,” he reminded the governors. “The Department remains committed to enforcing the Controlled Substances Act.”

“Any action from the Department of Justice short of allowing our well-regulated, voter-approved system to continue is unacceptable,” Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson responded. “I will continue to defend the will of Washington voters.”

Sessions’ efforts to reboot the drug war, especially against marijuana, received another rebuke on Aug. 5, when the Justice Department’s Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety failed to recommend rescinding memos, such as the 2013 Cole Memo, that prevent the Drug Enforcement Administration from interfering with statewide adult-use and medical-programs in Colorado and other states.

 

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