Senators Snub Sessions Voting to Extend Medical Marijuana Protections

Senators extend medical marijuana protections

Despite all his puffery Attorney General Jeff Sessions is no longer a threat to medical marijuana. Just a few months ago the same man linking weed to violence and terrorizing patients with stark reminders of federal violations is now snubbed by Senators and embarrassed by the President.

“Experts are telling me there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think” Sessions said in February. “I am definitely not a fan of expanded use of marijuana,”  “But states, they can pass the laws they choose. I would just say, it does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not.”

“With the troubling rhetoric coming from Jeff Sessions and his Justice Department, it is more crucial than ever that Congress protects state approved medical marijuana programs and the patients that benefit from them,” said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri, in a statement.

“Attorney General Sessions thinks that medical marijuana patients are no better than members of illegal drug cartels, it is imperative that our elected officials remove any potential bite from Sessions’ bark by taking away his ability to use the full force of the federal government to go against the will of over 90% of American citizens who support medical marijuana access and, in the process, endangering the well-being of millions of medical marijuana patients.”

However the Senators saw through the rhetoric and voted to enact the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment protecting lawful medical marijuana programs from the Department of Justice. First enacted by Congress back in 2014 the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment striped away the ability of the feds to use tax dollars to prevent states from implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana. About a year ago the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that because of the new amendment the feds could not take legal action against any marijuana patient who is not violating state law.

How long Sessions will last in office is anyone’s guess—especially as he’s continually burned by the President. Trump has even publicly shamed Sessions while Sessions was at the White House. As of late Sessions has threatened to bring back asset forfeiture which would allow the government to just take your stuff first—and ask questions later. This is a complete departure from his predecessor’s approach to marijuana.

Back in 2009 while under the Obama administration attorney general, Eric Holder released the Ogden Memo, which stated the new administration’s policy to look the other way in states that had chosen to legalize marijuana for medical purposes. In 2013, he released the Cole Memo, meaning the administration would not enforce federal law in states that had voted to legalize recreational use, as long as they stayed within the fed’s guidelines.

Passing the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment is more proof that Sessions is out of touch with the nation. Nearly all American adults support allowing adults to use marijuana for medical purposes if their doctor prescribes it. Forty-six states now recognize the therapeutic use of either cannabis or cannabidiol derived products and eight states regulate the adult use, production and sale of marijuana.

“This vote is not only a blow against an outdated Reefer Madness mindset, it is a personal rebuke to Jeff Sessions,” Tom Angell, chairman of drug policy reform group Marijuana Majority, said in a statement. “The attorney general, in contravention of President Trump’s campaign pledges and of public opinion, specifically asked Congress to give him the power to arrest and prosecute medical marijuana patients and providers who are following state laws. A bipartisan group of his former Senate colleagues just said no.”

However recreational marijuana retailers do not share these protections. Commercial cannabis retailers are still vulnerable to federal interference or prosecution. What’s worse? The feds could be planning an offensive. Back in February then-White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer publicly said that the administration was considering engaging in “greater enforcement” of federal anti-marijuana laws in these jurisdictions.

How do you feel about legally purchasing and consuming commercial cannabis under the federal government’s threat of a crackdown? Let us know in the comments section below.

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