Add another Republican leader who is urging his party to do the right thing for patients seeking medical marijuana: Michael Steele, the former Republican National Committee chairman.
In an opinion piece published in The Hill, Steele took aim at fellow Republican and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, chastising the longtime drug warrior for rescinding the Cole Memo, the Obama-era guideline giving the legal marijuana states some breathing room.
In the story, Steele wrote:
I was dismayed to see Attorney General Jeff Sessions (AG) recently rescind the Cole Memo, a United States Department of Justice (DOJ) document providing guidelines to United States attorneys in states that have chosen to legalize cannabis. This memo provided protection to states whose voters and duly elected legislatures have legalized some form of marijuana use.
While I may not be in favor unfettered adult use for individuals over 21 years of age, I am a strong supporter of medical marijuana. Numerous friends and acquaintances benefit from the medicinal properties and pain relief provided by cannabis. I favor state-based access to medical marijuana from both a philosophical and policy standpoint. I also support the reform of our federal cannabis laws to bring conformity to federal regulations and state laws.
Steele is concerned that the politicians in his party are refusing to listen to the will of the people. He cited a Quinnipiac poll from last year revealing that 94 percent of Americans favor, “allowing adults to legally use marijuana for medical purposes if their doctor prescribes it.”
This same poll, Steele wrote, found that 73 percent opposed government interference into states that have legalized marijuana; basically, three out of every four Americans are against the federal government enforcing cannabis prohibition laws in states that have legalized some form of marijuana use.
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Steele offered a shout out to the GOP leaders who have taken a stand with the majority of the American people on the issue:
Rep. Thomas Garrett authored the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) introduced legislation to reschedule marijuana. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), a longtime GOP champion of reform, drafted the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2017. Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) Small Business Tax Equity Act would bring tax equity to the cannabis industry.
Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) are leading the way in the United States Senate to increase research opportunities and allow marijuana businesses access to traditional banking services.
Steele, who now appears as a pundit on MSNBC, reminded us that President Trump said on the campaign trail that he supports medical marijuana 100 percent. It remains unclear if Trump will keep his promise.