Health

Jeff Sessions May Prosecute Medical Marijuana Providers

| by Michael Allen

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is reportedly looking into prosecuting those who provide medical marijuana to patients.

Sessions asked congressional leaders in a letter in May not to renew the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which has allowed states to "authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana" without interference from the Department of Justice.

An unidentified congressional staffer provided Sessions' letter to 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. 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.

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The Washington Post verified that the letter was real, and noted that the "historic drug epidemic" that Sessions referred to mostly involves opioid-based drugs, not marijuana. Many opioid-based drugs that can lead to dangerous addictions are legally manufactured by pharmaceutical companies.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse 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. Continued research may lead to more medications."

The NIDA also notes that "the marijuana plant contains chemicals that may help treat a range of illnesses and symptoms, many people argue that it should be legal for medical purposes. In fact, a growing number of states have legalized marijuana for medical use."

John Hudak of the Brookings Institution told the Washington Post in an email that Sessions' letter is a "scare tactic" that "could appeal to rank-and-file members or to committee chairs in Congress in ways that could threaten the future of this Amendment."

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A Quinnipiac University poll found in April that 94 percent of voters supported "allowing adults to legally use marijuana for medical purposes if their doctor prescribes it," while 5 percent opposed that policy.

The poll also found that 73 percent opposed government enforcement of federal laws against legalized medical or recreational marijuana, while 21 percent wanted those people prosecuted.

A study by the National Academies of Science, Medicine and Engineering found there was "strong evidence" that medical marijuana was effective in helping adults who deal with chronic pain, reported the Washington Post in February.

The study also found that people using marijuana for pain were "more likely to experience a significant reduction in pain symptoms."

Despite the reported effectiveness of medical marijuana, opioid-based drugs are often prescribed for chronic pain, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention opposes.

While there is no known lethal dose for marijuana, it's been repeatedly documented that people overdose from opioid-based medications such as oxycodone or fentanyl.

Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California commented on Sessions' actions via a spokesperson: "Mr. Sessions stands athwart 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."

Sources: MassRoots, The Washington Post (2), National Institute on Drug Abuse, Quinnipiac University, Congress.gov / Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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