On Wednesday Attorney General Jeff Sessions reminded us that federal laws still stand and marijuana is still illegal, despite voter-approved pro-marijuana state laws. While revealing record breaking seizures of narcotics by the Coast Guard in fiscal 2017, Sessions responded to a reporter’s question about pot, saying, “I’ve never felt we should legalize marijuana,” he continued to say, “It doesn’t strike me that the country would be better if it’s being sold at every street corner.” He also added that medical groups were opposed to cannabis and federal law still prohibits it.
The top priorities for Sessions have been and will likely remain illegal immigration, violent crimes and, of course, drugs. It remains a mystery, however, how his feelings and rhetoric will affect states that have gone the legal route. All his hinting is frustrating, but action would be catastrophic to the cannabis community, patients across the nation and local economies.
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The Cole Memo was a document produced by former Deputy Attorney General James Cole, which outlined an approach to handle states that had voted in legal cannabis and medical marijuana. Said memo recommended the department continue enforcing federal laws, but to leave legal states with regulatory systems alone, or at least not prioritize them.
In his own remarks last week, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein spoke at the Heritage Foundation, saying that the guidance given by the Cole Memo was under review.
“We are looking at the states that have decriminalized marijuana,” said Rosenstein. “I think there is some pretty significant evidence that marijuana turns out to be more harmful than a lot of people anticipated and it is more difficult to regulate than I think was contemplated by some of those states. We are going to take that all into consideration and then determine whether to revise that policy.”
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Sessions assembled a task force in February to look for the harm and the rise in crime due to marijuana. When their findings were reported by the AP, they were “tepid” at best. How Sessions and Rosenstein will show marijuana’s harm without any proof or pudding is anyone’s guess, but their efforts are a frightening prospect indeed.