Tag: The War on Marijuana

Poll: 3 of 4 Americans Want Trump to Respect State Marijuana Laws

Medical marijuana patients protest during a DEA raid on a medical marijuana dispensary in Hollywood, California in 2007. (Wikimedia)

A new Survey USA poll commissioned by Marijuana Majority finds the strongest support yet for letting states legalize cannabis without federal interference.

In the survey of 1,500 American adults, three out of four (76%) say that states should be able to implement their own marijuana laws regardless of federal prohibition.

In the new poll, just 14% say that Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice should enforce federal prohibition and arrest people who are complying with state marijuana laws. There is strong majority support for respecting state laws across every political, race, age, education and other demographic.

The poll also found that more Americans support than oppose letting marijuana consumers be professional athletes (46%-38%), journalists (50%-35%) and gun owners (48%-37%) without punishment. A number of newspapers drug test journalists before they are allowed to begin bylining stories, and several sports leagues suspend or fine athletes who are found to consume marijuana, even if it is legal under state law.

Federal law criminalizes the purchase of firearms by people who use marijuana, regardless of state policy.

Despite the general opposition to these policies, the poll also showed significant uncertainty in response to the questions — double-digit “Not Sure” responses —  which may suggest that many Americans aren’t aware that this type of discrimination exists.

Tom Angell, founder and chairman of Marijuana Majority, released the following statement:

“It’s clear that Jeff Sessions and the Trump administration would face a huge backlash from across the political spectrum if they broke the president’s campaign pledge to respect state marijuana policies and started arresting consumers and providers who are following local law. The more the attorney general threatens to ramp up federal enforcement, the more public opinion seems to harden against his outdated ‘Reefer Madness’ mindset.

“The other results show that while most voters generally think that cannabis consumers should be able to enjoy the same rights to employment, enjoyment and personal protection as everyone else does, our movement still has some work to do. The fact is, even when we succeed in removing marijuana criminalization, consumers continue to face discrimination from the private sector and the government, and it seems like a lot of people just aren’t aware of that.”

OTHER KEY FINDINGS FROM THE POLL INCLUDE:

  • All questions show clear majority support for cannabis consumers’ rights among Americans under 50 years of age.
  • There is generally majority support for cannabis consumers’ rights among Democrats and independents.
  • Republicans were evenly divided on gun rights for marijuana consumers even though they were clearly against protections for athletes and journalists.
  • Support for marijuana consumers’ rights was generally higher on all the questions for registered voters compared to all adults.

The previous highest level of support for preventing the federal government from interfering in state marijuana laws was 73%, in a Quinnipiac poll in April.

The Survey USA poll was conducted on behalf of Marijuana Majority from June 19-20, 2017. Full results of the poll are available here.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

PA Governor to AG Sessions: Don’t Get in the Way of Medical Marijuana

HARRISBURG, PA — Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has a message for Attorney General Jeff Sessions: Don’t get in the way of our medical marijuana program.

The Keystone State’s Democratic governor sent a letter to Sessions on Thursday, following reports that the Attorney General has asked Congress to undo medical marijuana protections that have been in place since 2014, and are set to expire in September if they are not reauthorized.

Those protections ban 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 sent to Members of Congress and obtained earlier this week by long-time marijuana activist Tom Angel, Sessions said the amendment would “inhibit” the Department of Justice’s ability to enforce the Controlled Substances Act.

The letter is the most recent development in a series of statements by Sessions recently that activists fear could indicate a forthcoming crackdown on medical marijuana providers by the federal government, even in states that have a regulated medical marijuana program.

With Pennsylvania close to implementing such a tightly regulated medical marijuana program, which Wolf advocated for and signed into law last year, the Pennsylvania governor sent his own letter to Attorney General Sessions on Thursday.

“Your action to undo the protections of the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which prevents the use federal funds to disrupt states’ efforts to implement “their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana” is misguided,” Wolf wrote.

In his letter, which can be found in its entirety following this article, Gov. Wolf noted that Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana law was written with bi-partisan cooperation, with Republicans and Democrats working with patients to write the law.

“Given the bipartisan and medical consensus for Medical Marijuana in Pennsylvania and many other states, I am disturbed to know that you are actively pursuing a change in federal law to go after medical marijuana suppliers,” Wolf writes.

The governor emphasized that the state has taken “careful and deliberate steps” to provide relief to patients while implementing a responsible medical marijuana program.

Before closing, Governor Wolf threatened the Attorney General with legal action if the federal government attempted to interfere with Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program.

“If you seek to further disrupt our ability to establish a legal way to deliver relief of medical marijuana to our citizens, I will ask the Attorney General of Pennsylvania to take legal action to protect our residents and state sovereignty,” Wolf firmly stated.

The full letter appears below.


Dear Attorney General Sessions:

Last year, the Pennsylvania passed bipartisan legislation to legalize Medical Marijuana that I was proud to sign into law. The legislation was the result of conversations with Republicans and Democrats and fierce advocacy from families of children who were stricken with terrible illness that could be helped by Medical Marijuana.

We talked to kids who suffer dozens of seizures in a given day. We met veterans who have seen absolute terror and seek relief from the effects of their post-traumatic stress. We approached the responsibility of providing relief to the people of Pennsylvania very thoughtfully. 

Since I signed the legislation, we have taken very careful and deliberate steps to implement the law so that those who are suffering can get relief while ensuring that the state is a responsible steward of the program.

Given the bipartisan and medical consensus for Medical Marijuana in Pennsylvania and many other states, I am disturbed to know that you are actively pursuing a change in federal law to go after medical marijuana suppliers.

We do not need the federal government getting in the way of Pennsylvania’s right to deliver them relief through our new medical marijuana program.

Your action to undo the protections of the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which prevents the use federal funds to disrupt states’ efforts to implement “their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana” is misguided.

If you seek to further disrupt our ability to establish a legal way to deliver relief of medical marijuana to our citizens, I will ask the Attorney General of Pennsylvania to take legal action to protect our residents and state sovereignty.

Sincerely,

Governor Tom Wolf

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Pennsylvania Governor to US Attorney General: Back Off!

Surrounded by medical marijuana patients and advocates, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signs Senate Bill 3 on April 17, 2016.

In a recent letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf wrote a pointed letter regarding the Department of Justice and it’s posturing to implement a crackdown of lawful state medical marijuana programs.

The full letter:

Dear Attorney General Sessions:

Last year, the Pennsylvania passed bipartisan legislation to legalize Medical Marijuana that I was proud to sign into law. The legislation was the result of conversations with Republicans and Democrats and fierce advocacy from families of children who were stricken with terrible illness that could be helped by Medical Marijuana.

We talked to kids who suffer dozens of seizures in a given day. We met veterans who have seen absolute terror and seek relief from the effects of their post-traumatic stress. We approached the responsibility of providing relief to the people of Pennsylvania very thoughtfully.

Since I signed the legislation, we have taken very careful and deliberate steps to implement the law so that those who are suffering can get relief while ensuring that the state is a responsible steward of the program.

Given the bipartisan and medical consensus for Medical Marijuana in Pennsylvania and many other states, I am disturbed to know that you are actively pursuing a change in federal law to go after medical marijuana suppliers.

We do not need the federal government getting in the way of Pennsylvania’s right to deliver them relief through our new medical marijuana program.

Your action to undo the protections of the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which prevents the use federal funds to disrupt states’ efforts to implement “their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana” is misguided.

If you seek to further disrupt our ability to establish a legal way to deliver relief of medical marijuana to our citizens, I will ask the Attorney General of Pennsylvania to take legal action to protect our residents and state sovereignty.

Sincerely,

Governor Tom Wolf

It recently came to light that Jeff Sessions sent a private letter to Congressional leadership requesting that the agency be permitted to target and prosecute state-licensed medical cannabis facilities, currently prohibited by a spending rider known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment.

“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.”

Jeff Sessions actually seems to believe that lawful medical marijuana patients, i.e. sick people, are causing the violent crime and contributing to transnational drug trafficking.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was questioned about federal marijuana policy during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing earlier this week and he brought up current DOJ policy and left the door wide open to a potential crackdown.

“Jim Cole tried to deal with it in that memorandum and at the moment that memorandum is still in effect. Maybe there will be changes to it in the future but we’re still operating under that policy which is an effort to balance the conflicting interests with regard to marijuana,” stated Rosenstein, “So I can assure you that is going to be a high priority for me as the U.S. Attorneys come on board to talk about how to deal with that challenge in the states that have legalized or decriminalized marijuana, whether it be for recreational or medical use…”

The Cole Memo, is a Justice Department memorandum, authored by US Deputy Attorney General James Cole in 2013 to US attorneys in all 50 states directs prosecutors not to interfere with state legalization efforts and those licensed to engage in the plant’s production and sale, provided that such persons do not engage in marijuana sales to minors or divert the product to states that have not legalized its use, among other guidelines.

But while the Justice Department contemplates its next move, Wolf and other state politicians are taking action. Recently, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) and Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) issued a letter to the new U.S. Attorney General and to Secretary of Treasury Mnuchin calling on them to uphold the Obama Administration’s largely ‘hands off’ policies toward marijuana legalization, as outlined in the Cole Memo.

“Overhauling the Cole Memo is sure to produce unintended and harmful consequences,” the governors wrote. “Changes that hurt the regulated market would divert existing marijuana product into the black market and increase dangerous activity in both our states and our neighboring states.”

Click here to send a message to your member of Congress to urge them to force the Department of Justice to respect state marijuana laws.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Rod Rosenstein: Marijuana Is Federally Illegal and Has No Medical Use

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein responds to questions about federal marijuana policy during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, June 13, 2017. (C-Span)

WASHINGTON, DC — Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was questioned about federal marijuana policy during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, and his responses were disconcerting to say the least.

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) asked Rosenstein about the current tension between state and federal marijuana laws.

“We do have a conflict between federal law and the law in some states. It’s a difficult issue for parents like me, who have to provide guidance to our kids… I’ve talked to Chuck Rosenberg, the administrator of the DEA and we follow the law and the science,” said Rosenstein, “And from a legal and scientific perspective, marijuana is an unlawful drug. It’s properly scheduled under Schedule I. And therefore we have this conflict.”

He further elaborated on the Trump Administration’s view of the Cole Memo, which was issued by President Obama’s Deputy Attorney General James Cole, which lays out guidelines for marijuana businesses operating in medical and legal states if they wish to avoid federal interference.

“Jim Cole tried to deal with it in that memorandum and at the moment that memorandum is still in effect. Maybe there will be changes to it in the future but we’re still operating under that policy which is an effort to balance the conflicting interests with regard to marijuana,” stated Rosenstein, “So I can assure you that is going to be a high priority for me as the U.S. Attorneys come on board to talk about how to deal with that challenge in the states that have legalized or decriminalized marijuana, whether it be for recreational or medical use…”

He also said that the Department of Justice is “responsible for enforcing the law. It’s illegal, and that is the federal policy with regards to marijuana.”

After testifying in front of the Senate Appropriations Committee, he also appeared before its House counterpart.

Representative Kilmer (D-WA) further questioned the Deputy Attorney General on the Cole Memo and the Department of Justice’s pending review of it, asking for an update on Attorney General Jeff Sessions view on it.

Rosenstein responded: “I do not have an update. I can tell you, it’s a very complicated issue for us. Under federal law as passed by the Congress, and given the science concerning marijuana, it’s a Schedule I controlled substance. That’s a decision I’ve talked with (DEA) Administrator Rosenberg about. Some states have taken a different approach and legalized or decriminalized marijuana for medical use and in some cases recreational use…The question of whether it’s legal under federal law is resolved because Congress has passed a law — it’s illegal. Scientists have found that there’s no accepted medical use for it. Cole made an effort to examine the issue and find a way forward for the department where we could continue with our obligation to enforce federal law and minimize the intrusion on states that were attempting to follow a different path.”

Despite these critiques, Rosenstein stated any revisions are likely to happen further down the road.

“For the moment the Cole memo remains our policy. There may be an opportunity to review it in the future, but at the moment I’m not aware of any proposal to change it. But I think we’re all going to have to deal with it in the future.”

Send a message to your member of Congress to support legislation to end federal marijuana prohibition by clicking here. 

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

AG Jeff Sessions Wants to Prosecute Medical Marijuana Providers

Jeff Sessions speaking at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, DC. (Flickr/Gage Skidmore)

WASHINGTON, DC — The first shots in the Trump Administration‘s War on Marijuana have been fired by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

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  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.”

When President Donald Trump signed the current spending bill into law, he included a signing statement objecting to numerous provisions in the bill, including Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment.

“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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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

South Dakota: Jury Acquits Tribal Marijuana Consultant on All Charges

FLANDREAU, SD — A marijuana consultant from a Colorado-based firm has been found not guilty of drug-related charges related to his work with a South Dakota tribe’s failed attempt to open a marijuana cultivation facility and smoking lounge in 2015.

Eric Hagen, president of the Colorado-based cannabis consulting firm Monarch America was charged with possession of more than 10 pounds of marijuana, conspiracy to possess more than 10 pounds of marijuana, and attempt to possess more than 10 pounds of marijuana, resulting from his work helping the Santee Sioux Tribe grow marijuana, a crop which was later burned by tribal officials.

Jonathan Hunt, Vice president of Monarch America, pleaded guilty to similar charges in August 2016.

Prosecutors, often making air quotes around the word “consulting” during arguments to the jury, argued that the duo were actively involved in the cannabis cultivation process beyond consultation, according to Courthouse News:

“We wouldn’t be here if all they did was consult,” Assistant Attorney General Bridget Mayer said, referring to Hagen and Hunt. “That’s not what happened. Hunt did seed ordering, planting, moving, lighting, and watering.

“Constructive possession is having access and control,” she continued. “There can be no doubt that Jon Hunt possessed that marijuana. Possession need not be exclusive; [the tribe] was not in exclusive possession of this marijuana, they shared it with the co-conspirators.”

Mayer argued that Hagen was aiding and abetting in Hunt’s admitted possession of the marijuana. “He’s talking constantly to Jon Hunt, giving input on which seeds to pick, and is a problem-solver . . . It might have started out that they were just going to be consultants, but it didn’t turn out that way.”

Prosecutors said the consultants ordered cannabis seeds, planted, cultivated and tended nearly 600 cannabis plants without tribal members present, and ultimately burned the tribe’s marijuana crop under the threat of a federal raid.

But defense attorneys say the charges against the consultants were politically motivated, calling the charges a “case of building a crime where there was none.”

Defense attorneys criticized law enforcement for not taking action against the consultants until nine months after the tribe’s crop had already been destroyed.

“If Hunt and Hagen were effectively confessing to possession of marijuana, they should have been arrested,” argued Mike Butler, who represents Hagen. “That’s not what they did . . . Why? The answer has been upfront from the beginning. Not one of the law enforcement officers involved in this for a moment believed that Mr. Hagen and Mr. Hunt were in the process of committing a crime against the state of South Dakota.”

“This was a political dispute, not a drug case,” he added. “This is a power dispute, not a drug case. And my client and Mr. Hunt are collateral damage. That’s what they are, in a fight between other people about jurisdiction and who’s got the real power.”

Jurors deliberated for only two hours before delivering a not-guilty verdict.

In 2014, the United States Department of Justice released a memo implying the federal government would not prosecute the cultivation of marijuana on tribal land.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Study: Racial Disparity in Marijuana Arrest Rates Increasing

African Americans in Virginia are arrested for violating marijuana possession laws at more than three times the rates of whites and this disparity is rising, according to an analysis of statewide arrest data by Virginia Commonwealth University’s Capital News Service.

Researchers reviewed 160,000 state and local arrest records from the years 2010 through 2016. They found that blacks were 2.9 times as likely as whites to be arrested for possessing marijuana in 2010, but 3.2 times as likely to be arrested by 2016.

In some counties and towns, such as in Hanover County and in Arlington, Virginia, the black arrest rate was six to eight times that of whites.

The findings are similar to those of a 2015 report, which determined that the number of African Americans arrested in Virginia for marijuana possession offenses increased 106 percent between the years 2003 and 2014. That study concluded that blacks account for nearly half of all marijuana possession arrests, but comprise only 20 percent of the state population.

A separate analysis of Maryland arrest data determined that African Americans accounted for 58 percent of all marijuana possession arrested despite comprising only 30 percent of the state’s population.

A 2016 analysis of California arrest figures concluded that police arrested blacks for marijuana offenses at three and half times the rate of whites. A prior statewide assessment reported that police in 25 of California’s major cities arrested blacks for marijuana possession violations at rates four to twelve times that of caucasians. Similar disparities have been repeatedly reported in other major cities, including New York and Chicago.

A 2013 American Civil Liberties Union study found that nationwide blacks are approximately four times as likely as whites to be arrested for marijuana possession, even though both ethnicities consume the substance at approximately similar rates.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Trump Threatens to Defy Congress to Go After Medical Marijuana

Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a campaign rally in February 2016. (Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore)

Congress moved to protect medical marijuana by including in its stop-gap federal spending bill a provision barring the Justice Department from using federal funds to go after the drug in states where medical marijuana is legal, but now, President Trump says that doesn’t matter.

Even though Trump signed the spending bill into law last Friday, he included a signing statement objecting to numerous provisions in the bill—including the ban on funds to block the implementation of medical marijuana laws in those states.

Despite those state laws, marijuana remains illegal under federal law, which also does not recognize “medical marijuana.”

The president said he reserved the right to ignore that provision and left open the possibility the Trump administration could go after the 29 states, the District of Columbia, and the territories of Guam and Puerto Rico where medical marijuana use is allowed.

“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 the signing statement. “I will treat this provision consistently with my constitutional responsibility to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

The language suggests that Trump could give Attorney General Jeff Sessions his head when it comes to enforcing marijuana policy. Sessions has vowed to crack down on marijuana and has scoffed at arguments for its medical use as “desperate.”

“I reject the idea that we’re going to be better placed if we have more marijuana,” Sessions told law enforcement officials in an April speech. “It’s not a healthy substance, particularly for young people.”

But the language also sets up a potential power struggle with Congress, which, under the Constitution, has the sole power to appropriate funds for federal government operations.

As Steve Bell, a senior adviser at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington told Bloomberg News, the signing statement signals a desire to usurp power from Congress.

“It is the constitutional prerogative of the Congress to spend money and to put limitations on spending,” said Bell, a former staff director of the Senate Budget Committee and an aide to former Republican Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico. “This is an extremely broad assertion of executive branch power over the purse.”

Medical marijuana providers in states where it is legal thought they had some protection, thanks to the congressional budget action, but in typical Trumpian fashion, the president’s signing statement has once again introduced doubt and uncertainty, leaving at risk not only patients and providers, but also traditional limits on executive authority.


This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license from StopTheDrugWar.org and was first published here.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Trump Administration Plans to Slash Funding for Drug Czar’s Office

WASHINGTON, DC — The Trump Administration plans to cut the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s (ONDCP) budget by nearly 95%, according to a report today by CBS News.

According to CBS, the cuts made to the ONDCP budget for fiscal year 2018 are being proposed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

Among the proposed cuts, 33 employees would be cut, accounting for nearly half the office staff, along with intelligence, research and budget functions at the agency.

The Model State Drug Laws and Drug Court grant programs would also be eliminated.

Grant Smith, deputy director of national affairs with the Drug Policy Alliance, issued a statement on behalf of the organization, which seeks to reform drug laws nationally.

“The reality is that ONDCP is an agency in dire need of reform,” Smith said. “Under Michael Botticelli, during Obama’s second term, the agency made progress in terms of seeing drugs as a public health issue, not a criminal justice issue. But we know that Trump and Sessions are keen on escalating the war on drugs, so there is a real fear that ONDCP will be used as another tool to prosecute this failed drug war – as it was under Bill Clinton and both Bush presidencies.”

“If that was the plan for ONDCP, then we would rather see it eliminated. The HIDTA and Drug Free Communities grant programs, run by ONDCP, are a phenomenal waste of money that contribute to the incarceration and stigmatization of drug users, so their elimination is a welcome move.”

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Justice Department Still Prohibited From Interfering in State Medical Marijuana Laws Under New Spending Bill

The United States Capitol in Washington, DC (Wikimedia/David Maiolo)

WASHINGTON, DC — The Justice Department will continue to be prohibited from interfering in state medical marijuana laws under the federal spending bill passed Thursday in the Senate.

The bill has already passed the House, and President Donald Trump has said he will sign it.

The legislation includes a provision that is intended to prevent the department, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, from using funds to arrest or prosecute patients, caregivers, and businesses that are acting in compliance with state medical marijuana laws.

“Congress appears to be growing increasingly comfortable with states adopting their own marijuana policies,” said Robert Capecchi, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Unfortunately, spending prohibitions like these expire at the end of the fiscal year, so there is still a need for a long-term solution.

“The time is right for Congress to adopt permanent legislation that protects individuals from federal enforcement if they are in compliance with state laws,” Capecchi said. “It is difficult to understand what they’re waiting for. The vast majority of U.S. voters oppose the federal government interfering in state marijuana laws, and there is now near-universal support for legalizing medical marijuana.”

The provision stems from an amendment originally sponsored by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and former Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA), which was first approved by the House in May 2014. It was approved again by a larger margin in June 2015, then included in the continuing appropriations packages that have funded the federal government since October 2016.

In April 2015, a Justice Department spokesman told the Los Angeles Times that the department did not interpret the amendment as affecting cases involving individuals or businesses, but merely “impeding the ability of states to carry out their medical marijuana laws.” In October 2015, a federal judge ruled that the department’s interpretation was inaccurate and that the provision prevents it from taking action against individuals who are acting in compliance with state laws.

“Renewing protections for state medical marijuana policies is not just good public policy, it’s good politics,” said Don Murphy, director of conservative outreach for the Marijuana Policy Project. “The Republican-controlled Congress stuck to its 10th Amendment principles. It is protecting states’ rights to adopt medical marijuana laws by protecting individuals who comply with them from federal prosecution. It should welcome the opportunity to expand that protection to individuals complying with any state marijuana law, including those regulating marijuana for adult use.”

The spending package approved Thursday also includes a provision that prevents the District of Columbia from regulating the cultivation and distribution of marijuana for adult use. It was originally introduced by Rep. Andy Harris (R-Maryland) and approved in 2015, after District voters approved a ballot initiative to make possession and cultivation of limited amounts of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age and older.

“It is irrational to prohibit D.C. officials from establishing a regulatory system to control the cultivation and distribution of marijuana,” Capecchi said. “Marijuana is legal for adults in D.C., and it needs to be treated like other products that are legal for adults. By renewing the Harris Amendment, Congress is preventing local officials from taking steps toward improving public health and safety in our nation’s capital.”

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.