Sessions — who believes that marijuana is “only slightly less awful” than heroin and claims that “good people don’t smoke marijuana” — has reportedly asked congressional leaders to undo federal medical marijuana protections that have been in place since 2014.
Those medical marijuana protections, first known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, were reauthorized this year as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment following the retirement of Congressman Sam Farr.
The amendment bans the Department of Justice from using federal funds to interfere with state medical marijuana laws, specifically stating that no federal funds may be appropriated to “prevent any [state] from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”
In a May letter that became public Monday, first obtained by MassRoots’ Tom Angell and subsequently verified by the Washington Post, the Attorney General believes that the amendment would “inhibit” the Department of Justice’s ability to enforce the Controlled Substances Act.
“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.”
“Division B, section 537 provides that the Department of Justice may not use any funds to prevent implementation of medical marijuana laws by various States and territories,” Trump noted in his signing statement. “I will treat this provision consistently with my constitutional responsibility to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”
The amendment’s lead sponsor, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R.-CA), respond to the report of Sessions’ letter by telling the Washington Post that “Mr. Sessions stands athwart an overwhelming majority of Americans and even, sadly, against veterans and other suffering Americans who we now know conclusively are helped dramatically by medical marijuana.”
Support for marijuana law reform nationwide is at an all time high, according to recent polling, including overwhelming support for medical marijuana.
A CBS News poll conducted in April found that 88% of US adults support regulating the use of medical marijuana, and that 71% of Americans – including majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents – oppose efforts by the federal government to interfere in states that have legalized the plant’s distribution and use.
A separate poll conducted by Quinnipiac University, also released in April, found that 94% of adults support legalizing medical marijuana, with 73% opposed to federal interference in states that have legalized it.
While on the campaign trail, Trump implied he believed that marijuana should be regulated at the state, not federal, level.
“In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state,” then-candidate Trump said at a Nevada campaign rally in 2015.
According to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, 46 states and the District of Columbia have enacted some form of medical marijuana law, although many states have limited or non-functional medical marijuana programs.
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