Attorney General Jeff Sessions is not in the habit of hiding his true feelings about marijuana. And now he’s at it again.
In the past, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that good people don’t use cannabis and said there are absolutely no benefits to the drug. But, for this politician, it is a little surprising he was the one to leak his own agenda on cannabis this past week.
In addition, there is a lot of fear for the cannabis community with the new spending agenda. If the amendment is left out of a new federal spending bill, Attorney General Jeff Sessions will be free to wage war on the cannabis industry.
A year ago, Donald Trump announced that Jeff Sessions would be his Attorney General. He is an advocate against marijuana. This is the same Senator that had once joked that he considered the Klan to be OK guys until he found out they smoked pot.
“I, as you know, am dubious about marijuana,” Sessions told the National Association of Attorneys General in February.
“I do believe … that the public is not properly educated on some of the issues related to marijuana,” Sessions stated Friday.
The War Path of Jeff Sessions
Firstly, in May, Sessions sent a letter to a few of his congressional colleagues requesting the repeal of the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment. This protects medical marijuana businesses from federal prosecution as long as they’re operating in legal states.
Morgan Fox, a communications manager of the Marijuana Policy Project, said:
“There’s no way that Sessions can start rolling back medical marijuana policies or attacking patients and providers without looking like the bad guy.”
During the summer, all signs pointed to Jeff Sessions’ imminent action against legal marijuana. But then August, the DOJ’s Task Force reported back with no new policy recommendations to curb legal marijuana programs. This advice that would have remained secret if the Associated Press hadn’t obtained the documents. As a result, the federal prohibition on marijuana was practically unenforceable without state and local police doing the feds’ dirty work.
The Cole memo, written by James Cole, a deputy attorney general under then-AG Eric Holder, spelled out the conditions under which the Justice Department would allow states to regulate and enforce their own cannabis laws. The memo did not federally legalize cannabis. Nor did it legally prevent the DEA or other Justice Department agencies from enforcing federal cannabis laws in legal states. It is merely a policy guide departmental decisions about state-legal cannabis. In March, President Trump issued Executive Order 13777. It called for agencies to establish Regulatory Reform Task Forces to identify existing regulations for potential repeal, replacement, or modification.
Sessions May Have an Upper Hand
In September, both houses of Congress began budget discussions following approval of a three-month federal spending bill. It blocked a vote on the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment (which is the same as the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, but with a different sponsor). Blocking this vote would leave protection unavailable for medical marijuana businesses. Now, this gives Sessions potential to use federal dollars to prosecute marijuana businesses.
In a recent Action Alert, Matt Schweich of the Marijuana Policy Project stated:
Tomorrow, the deadline for approving a federal spending bill in Congress arrives. Along with it comes the threat of losing federal protections for medical marijuana. If lawmakers do not include language that prevents the Department of Justice from targeting state-legal medical marijuana programs, or if there is a government shutdown, there will be nothing to stop Attorney General Jeff Sessions from attacking patients and providers that are in compliance with state law.
With Sessions having a leeway, it’s hard to say what might happen due to the chaotic nature of the administration.
Times are Changing
Considering many people are worried about a possible crackdown on marijuana by the Department of Justice, this may have been for a purpose. Jeff Sessions leak gave an upper advantage. For now, marijuana amendments are out of order. That means that the extension of these protections rests in the hands of the Senate. On the other hand, no one can guarantee what will happen. The status quo is already happening and the laws are already changing for many states. Jeff Sessions will soon be of the past.