Sessions asked Congressional leaders not to renew a current federal law that prevents the Justice Department from spending money to interfere with state medicinal cannabis laws, reports Tom Angell at MassRoots.“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 in a letter to House and Senate leadership. “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.”
“I respectfully request that you oppose the inclusion of such language in Department appropriations,” Sessions wrote to Capitol Hill leaders regarding Rohrabacher-Farr medical marijuana protections.
The letter was sent by Sessions to Capitol Hill last month. It was shared with MassRoots by a Congressional leaker.The protections arose as the result of a rider known as the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment. Lead Congressional sponsors Dana Rohrabacher (R-California) and Sam Farr (D-California) in 2003 wrote the rider. It finally past in 2014 after six failed attempts. For the past three fiscal years, including the current one, Rohrabacher-Farr has been enacted into law with strong bipartisan votes.
But when Donald Trump last month signed a Fiscal year 2017 omnibus spending bill into law, he issued a “signing statement” that he reserved the right to ignore the medical marijuana protections, and conduct federal raids anyway. That set the stage for Sessions’ request for permission to go after the medical cannabis states.
“I will treat this provision consistently with my constitutional responsibility to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” Trump wrote in his signing statement.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions:
“I believe it would be unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the Department to fund particular prosecutions, particular in the midst of a historic drug epidemic”
When Trump sent his first full budget request to Congress, he tellingly didn’t include an extension of the Rohrabacher-Farr protections.
Last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that Rohrabacher-Farr does prevent federal prosecutors from going after state-legal medical marijuana patients, growers and dispensaries. But that ruling only applies to the nine states and two territories falling under the Ninth Circuit’s jurisdiction.
“As a result, in the Ninth Circuit, many individuals and organizations that are operating in violation of the CSA and causing harm in their communities may invoke the rider to thwart prosecution,” Sessions wrote in his new letter to Congress.
The Obama Administration in 2013, in a document called the Cole Memo, laid out Justice Department guidelines for how states can avoid federal interference in their marijuana laws. The Cole Memo is still in place for now, but who knows for how long, once Trump figures out it was something that “Obama did.”
Sessions, for his part, directed a task force to review possible marijuana enforcement policy changes and issue recommendations by July 27.
The Attorney General is one of D.C.’s most notorious cannabis opponents. Last year, as a senator from Alabama, Sessions said that “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.” He harshly criticized Obama’s approach of generally respecting the rights of states to set their own policies when it comes to cannabis.
Sessions’ new letter asking Congress to let him go after medical marijuana states repeats some 20th Century reefer madness myths. The Attorney General argues that weed is “linked to an increased risk of psychiatric disorders such as psychosis, respiratory ailments such as lung infections, cognitive impairments such as IQ loss, and substance use disorder and addiction.”