Health

Sessions Wants To Prosecute Medical Marijuana Providers

| by Robert Fowler

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is attempting to make it easier for the Department of Justice to prosecute medical marijuana providers.

On May 1, Sessions penned a letter requesting an end to the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment and forwarded it to congressional leaders. On June 13, the letter's authenticity was verified by The Washington Post.

The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment was originally introduced in 2014 and has been renewed in omnibus spending bills, most recently in September 2016. The amendment prohibits the DOJ from using federal funds to prosecute medical marijuana providers who operate in states that have legalized the industry.

Sessions asserted in his letter that the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment undermined the DOJ's authority to prosecute marijuana providers under the Controlled Substances Act. The attorney general cited the ongoing opioid epidemic as a reason to rescind the amendment.

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"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," Sessions concluded.

Recent polling indicates that the majority of Americans approve of the medical marijuana industry.

Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California, a co-author of the amendment, blasted Sessions' letter in an official statement.

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"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," said a Rohrabacher spokesperson.

The Brookings Institution's John Hudak called Sessions' letter a betrayal of President Donald Trump's campaign pledge to frame marijuana enforcement as a state issue, asserting that Trump's "rhetoric and the White House's words on his support for medical marijuana was actually a lie to the American public on an issue that garners broad, popular support."

On April 17, a Yahoo/Marist poll found that 83 percent of national adults supported medical marijuana legalization. The survey also found that 47 percent of respondents wanted Trump to not be as tough on medical marijuana as the Obama administration was; only 20 percent wanted stricter enforcement.

Sessions has been a vocal critic of marijuana legalization and has condemned the drug as a grave public danger.

On March 15, Sessions compared marijuana to heroin during an address in Richmond, Virginia.

"I realize this may be an unfashionable belief in a time of growing tolerance of drug use ... I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana -- so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that's only slightly less awful," Sessions said, according to Boston Magazine.

On March 13, Sessions stated: "Medical marijuana has been hyped, maybe too much."

Sources: Boston Magazine, Marist Poll, Washington Post (2) / Photo credit: U.S. Customs and Border Protection/Wikimedia Commons

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