There has been a great deal of speculation over the past several months about whether U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will impose a federal crackdown on the legal marijuana trade. Although Sessions has kept mostly quiet on the issue, a new document has surfaced showing that he has been working diligently to persuade the political animals on Capitol Hill to abandon the temporary protections it now provides for the medical marijuana industry.
In a letter sent to both chambers of Congress, Sessions begs federal lawmakers not to give any additional consideration to a rider tucked inside a federal spending bill that prohibits the Justice Department and its goons over at the DEA from using tax dollars to investigate, raid and prosecute members of the medical marijuana community.
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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.”
At the heart of his request, Sessions wants Congress to jump ship on a rider called the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, which has been in place for the past few years. It was recently renewed under the current federal spending bill, which was signed into law by President Donald Trump, but not without a warning that the end of this temporary order may be coming.
“I will treat this provision consistently with my constitutional responsibility to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” Trump wrote in a signing statement back in April.
Ever since the Trump Administration took over the White House, there have been random peeps coming from various officials suggesting that all of the legal marijuana business happening in the United States was on borrowed time.
In fact, Sessions recently assembled a violent crime task force to review federal marijuana policies. The group is supposed to deliver its findings “no later than July 27.” There is speculation that the recommendations stemming from this review could lead to the reversal of an Obama-era memo allowing states to experiment with legal weed.
For now, the only thing standing in the way of a total federal crackdown on legal marijuana is the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment. There is nothing in place, not even
on a temporary basis, that offers the same protections for those states that have chosen to end prohibition altogether. This means if Sessions can prevent Congress from offering its support to the medical sector, the Department of Justice could easily step in and change the course of the legal marijuana movement for at least the next four years.
It was not that long ago that Sessions blamed legal marijuana on an uprising of cartel activity in the United States. The Attorney General reiterated this sentiment in his letter to Congress.
“Drug traffickers already cultivate and distribute marijuana inside the United States under the guise of state medical marijuana laws,” he wrote. “The individuals in these organizations often find a place for themselves within state regulatory systems.”
To solidify his argument against medical marijuana, Sessions also wrote in the letter that marijuana comes with “significant health effects,” including “psychosis, lung infections, IQ loss, and addiction.”
“For these reasons, I respectfully request that you oppose the inclusion of such language in Department appropriations,” Sessions concluded.
The fate of the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment will be realized in September. Either Congress will renew it, as it has done for the past three years, or lawmakers will side with Sessions and leave the medical marijuana industry out in the cold.