Attorney General Jeff Sessions has had all of us worried for a while now. Each sigh of relief seems to quickly turn into a cold sweat.
Medical marijuana, which we thought was safe from the long arm of the feds, got thrown a curve ball with Trump’s “signing statement” on a bill earlier this month, in which the president implied that he would do what he felt like doing when it came to MMJ—regardless of state laws and his previous stances.
Given Sessions’ relentless opposition to medical marijuana ,underscored recently when he said it “has been hyped, maybe too much,” advocates are worried that the administration is planning a full frontal assault on state MMJ programs, 29 in all.
“It just creates a lot of uncertainty, and that uncertainty is deeply concerning for patients and providers,” said Michael Collins, deputy director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “We had thought medical marijuana wasn’t really in play in terms of a crackdown.”
A Justice Department spokesman declined to discuss what steps might be taken related to medical marijuana but said the provision in the spending bill is of concern to officials, the Washington Post reported.
“The Department of Justice must be in a position to use all laws available to combat the transnational drug organizations and dangerous drug traffickers who threaten American lives,” said spokesman Ian Prior, who wouldn’t discuss the issue further.
Justin Strekal, political director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), said the May 5 signing statement is troubling, even if a federal crackdown is not in the offing, because it could have “a chilling effect on a nascent industry.”
Of particular concern, Strekal added, is the impact it could have on investors in dispensaries in states where programs are just coming on line. Prosecution of a single business in one state could have a devastating impact.
It didn’t help when last week Sessions directed federal prosecutors to get tougher on drug defendants and launched a task force to look at changes in enforcement, particularly regarding weed.
“Attorney General Sessions’ decision to escalate the War on Drugs by returning to harsh sentencing for low-level drug law violations will once again fill our federal prisons with people serving excessive sentences,” according to a Drug Policy Alliance press release. “Decades of research have demonstrated that these regressive policies have little impact on public safety, waste billions of taxpayer dollars, and disproportionately hurt communities of color.”
Meanwhile, a Quinnipiac poll last month found that 94 percent of Americans, including 90 percent of Republicans, support medical marijuana.
How does the Trump administration continually get away with blatantly violating the will of the people?
California Republican House member, Dana Rohrabacher—a self-described Trump supporter and MMJ user for severe arthritis pain—has said that if Sessions starts a war on weed, he’ll see his old friend in court.
“If we have to take it all the way to the Supreme Court, we will win on this,” Rohrabacher said.
“Marijuana laws in this country have violated every basic principle this country stands for over the last 75 years. It’s time to stop,” Rohrabacher added, during a roundtable talk on cannabis at UC Irvine last Friday. “I think there are a lot of people running around trying to paint the president into a corner on this.”