CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is publicly urging United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reconsider his opposition to medical cannabis, particularly as a way to fight the opioid epidemic.
Gupta wrote a public letter to Sessions, saying that he had changed his mind on the use of medical cannabis, “and I am certain you can, as well”, reports the Associated Press.
Gupta says he made his plea to Sessions after he declined to be interviewed for his special on the topic, Weed 4, which aired on CNN on Sunday, April 29, 2018. The special followed football player Mike James and others who say that medical marijuana has both eased the pain of injuries and weaned them from addiction to opioids. A spokesperson for Sessions declined to comment.
United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions – after decades of anti-marijuana rhetoric – admitted today that “there may well be some benefits from medical marijuana”, and says it’s “perfectly appropriate to study” it.
Sessions made the comments while speaking to the Senate Appropriations Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee. Sessions noted that the government plans to soon increase the number of licenses issued for those wanting to research marijuana.
“We are moving forward and we will add fairly soon, I believe, the paperwork and reviews will be completed and we will add additional suppliers of marijuana under the controlled circumstances,” said Sessions.
President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have had “multiple fights” over how the government should approach the situation of multiple states having legalized marijuana despite it being federally illegal, according to a former White House employee.
President Trump and AG Sessions disagree with each other on what the government should do regarding state laws that make marijuana legal, a former White House employee tells us (although the individual would like to remain anonymous, we were able to verify that they did in fact work with the White House during a period last year). Trump wants the government to respect state marijuana laws and take a hands-off approach. Sessions, however, wants the government to move forward with a full-blown crackdown of state-level marijuana legalization. Allegedly, Trump’s opposition is the only thing that’s kept Sessions from doing so.
“Sessions and Trump have been heard arguing in the halls on several occasions, with Sessions enraged that Trump wants to “ignore federal law” when it comes to marijuana”, our source tells us. “Trump thinks it’s bad politics. He wants to the feds to look the other way”. Apparently Sessions rescinding the Obama-era Cole Memo, without a federal crackdown, is the best compromise the two have been able to reach.
As first reported by Tom Angell of MassRoots.com, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson responded to a July 24 letter from US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in which Sessions’ made multiple allegations all based on a single misleading 2016 report.
One would say, they didn’t pull any punches:
“Your letter, citing the March 2016 Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (NW HIDTA) report on marijuana in Washington, makes a number of allegations that are outdated, incorrect, or based on incomplete information.”
Cutting right to the heart of the matter, i.e. facts, the Washington state leaders again articulated their desire to educate the (seemingly willing) ignorant Sessions.
“We have twice requested an in-person meeting with you because we believe it will lead to better understanding than exchanging letters. If we can engage in a more direct dialogue, we might avoid this sort of miscommunication and make progress on the issues that are important to both of us. We therefore reiterate our request to meet with you, followed by further appropriate meetings between state and DOJ officials.”
One of the most basic functions of government is to simply provide consistency and certainty in law enforcement. So after repeated efforts by the state’s leadership to receive clarification, basic facets of the Department of Justice’s approach are still unknown. In yet another attempt for guidance, the Governor and state Attorney General requested information on:
Whether DOJ intends to follow recommendations from its Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety—in particular, its reported recommendation to continue previous federal policy on state legalization of marijuana.
Whether President Trump’s previous statements of support for medical marijuana, and leaving recreational marijuana legalization to the states, represent the policy of the federal government.
Whether DOJ will support reasonable federal policies allowing financial institutions to provide service to licensed marijuana businesses, in order to avoid the public safety risks and transparency problems associated with all-cash businesses.
How state-regulated marijuana should be treated by the federal government following the President’s declaration that the opioid crisis constitutes a national emergency, and whether the federal government will support objective, independent research into the effects of marijuana law reform on opioid use and abuse.
Whether the federal government will help protect public health by supporting agricultural research on the safety of pesticides used in marijuana cultivation.
Whether the federal government will support research into expedited roadside DUI testing methods for law enforcement, as alternatives to blood draws.
How Attorney General Sessions will respond, only time will tell.
You can click HERE to send a message to your Representative to urge their support for The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act, bipartisan legislation to prevent the Department of Justice from enforcing federal prohibition in states that have chosen to legalize medical or adult-use marijuana.
You can view the full letter from Governor Inslee and AG Ferguson by clicking here.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his Justice Department has effectively shutdown a potential increase in the research of marijuana by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Sessions has effective stopped the DEA from taking action on more than two dozen requests to grow marijuana to use in research, according to a report by The Washington Post.
As noted by the Post, a year ago the DEA began accepting applications to grow more marijuana for research, and as of this month, had received 25 proposals to consider. However, the DEA says they need the Justice Department to sign-off on more research in order to move forward, and so far, the department hasn’t been willing to provide it.
“They’re sitting on it,” said one law enforcement official familiar with the matter. “They just will not act on these things.” As a result, “the Justice Department has effectively shut down this program to increase research registrations”, says a senior DEA official.
According to a report by MassRoots’ Tom Angell, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has sent a letter asking members of Congress to undo protections that prevent the Department of Justice from enforcing federal marijuana laws in states that have legalized the plant for medical use.
“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 in the letter sent to Congressional leadership from both parties. “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.”
Sessions was referring to the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, a provision initially passed during the Obama Administration that protects state-level medical cannabis programs from federal intrusion. The letter from Sessions was sent last month, and was obtained by MassRoots from a Congressional staffer.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced today that a task force subcommittee will evaluate marijuana enforcement policies.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions today issued a memo to 94 U.S. Attorney’s Offices and Department of Justice component heads providing an update on the Department’s Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety.
As part of that update, the Attorney General announced the creation of Task Force subcommittees that will focus on a variety of issues including “evaluating marijuana enforcement policy”. These subcommittees will also focus on; “developing violent crime reduction strategies, supporting prevention and re-entry efforts, updating charging and sentencing policies, reviewing asset forfeiture guidance; reducing illegal immigration and human trafficking” and “combating hate crimes”.
At a speech today in Virginia Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he believes medical marijuana has been “hyped”, and that marijuana is only “slightly less awful” than heroin.
During a speech to law enforcement – the full text of which can be found on the Department of Justice website – Sessions stated; “I think medical marijuana has been hyped, maybe too much.”
Sessions also remarked that he rejects “the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store”, and said he’s “astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana – so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that’s only slightly less awful. Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life.”
Politico has reported that Jeff Sessions has privately reassured several Senators that “he won’t deviate from an Obama-era policy of allowing states to implement their own marijuana laws.”
According to the report, “Sessions provided some private assurances to senators before he was confirmed that he was not considering a major shift in enforcement, despite his opposition to the use of marijuana.”
According to Senator Rand Paul (R); “He told me he would have some respect for states’ right on these things. And so I’ll be very unhappy if the federal government decides to go into Colorado and Washington and all of these places. And that’s not the [what] my interpretation of my conversation with him was. That this wasn’t his intention”.
President Donald Trump’s pick for attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has drawn widespread criticism, especially in the cannabis community. And for good reason: He once said he thought the KKK was “okay” until he learned they smoked marijuana, and he said not long ago that good people don’t use it.
What many people don’t realize, is that Sessions’ history on cannabis and drugs is much worse than that. In fact, just 20 years ago he was a public supporter of the death penalty for those caught dealing drugs twice, including marijuana.
In 1996, when serving as Alabama’s attorney general, he promoted H.B. 242, S.B. 291, a state bill to establish mandatory death sentences for a second drug trafficking conviction, including for dealing marijuana.
The drug bill was advertised as targeting “kingpins,” but to qualify for execution, the defendant merely needed to lead a group of five people and make the minimum wage in drug proceeds. Alabama’s minimum wage was $4.25 per hour in 1996.
This is just one of many reasons why proponents of cannabis – and basic human rights – should vehemently oppose Sessions nomination (although it unfortunately may not matter, as a rejection of his nomination seems unlikely).