Tag: Trump Administration

Senators Urge Trump Administration to Consider Cannabis as Opioid Alternative

As the Trump administration works to tackle the nation’s opioid crisis, a pair of US senators have submitted a number of suggested reforms to the White House—including the use of medical cannabis as an alternative to opioid-based painkillers.

“In 2016, more people in Connecticut died from drug overdoses than from homicides, suicides, and car accidents combined.”

Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal

In correspondence sent to the President Trump’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal submitted a number of recommendations, including ideas on how those who are fighting the opioid epidemic can work together more efficiently, and how addiction treatment and prevention programs can be implemented more effectively.

“We write today to submit to you recommendations that we gathered from community leaders from across Connecticut at a recent Opioid Summit,” wrote the senators, who spent much of last week in Connecticut at a summit on the state’s opioid epidemic.

RELATED STORY

Vast Majority of Pain Patients Prefer Cannabis to Opioids, Study Finds

“As you know, the opioid epidemic is devastating communities across the nation and more must be done to combat this crisis,” they told the commission. “In 2016, more people in Connecticut died from drug overdoses than from homicides, suicides, and car accidents combined.” We urge you to use these comments as you develop the interim and final reports for President Trump.”

In the report, the two Democratic lawmakers identify what they feel are some of best way to curb opioid overdoses. Among the recommendations: “exploring alternatives to opioids for pain management, (i.e. medical marijuana).”

RELATED STORY

DEA Chief Repeats Claim That ‘Marijuana Is Not Medicine’

“The powerful drug fentanyl was involved in the deaths of 483 people—a staggering 544 percent increase since just a couple of years ago,” the senators note. “In 2016, more people in Connecticut died from drug overdoses than from homicides, suicides, and car accidents combined.”

To date, not one recorded fatality has resulted from a cannabis overdose.

Murphy and Blumenthal also sent Gov. Chris Christie a letter to notify him about the recommendations sent to Trump. Here’s the letter in its entirety:

Dear Governor Christie:

We write today to submit to you recommendations that we gathered from community leaders from across Connecticut at a recent Opioid Summit. As you know, the opioid epidemic is devastating communities across the nation and more must be done to combat this crisis. We urge you to use these comments as you develop the interim and final reports for President Trump.

The Opioid Summit we convened brought together local residents, law enforcement, first responders, treatment providers, and community organizations. Participants heard Dr. James Gill, Connecticut’s Chief Medical Examiner, give a sobering presentation about the state of this crisis in Connecticut. Dr. Gill said that opioids were present in 93 percent of the 917 people who died in 2016 from a drug overdose. The powerful drug fentanyl was involved in the deaths of 483 people – a staggering 544 percent increase since just a couple of years ago. In 2016, more people in Connecticut died from drug overdoses than from homicides, suicides, and car accidents combined. Following Dr. Gill’s presentation, attendees broke into small groups to develop the enclosed recommendations. Your colleague in this effort, Dr. Bertha Madras, closed the Summit with some thoughtful insights on the opioid crisis.

As the administration’s opioid task force continues its work, we want to emphasize and echo comments that you heard during your inaugural meeting in June regarding the role of Medicaid, the federal mental health parity law, and the federal Essential Health Benefits standard. Medicaid is the largest payer for addiction and mental health treatment, and any legislation that cuts billions from it will hurt our efforts to combat this epidemic. Likewise, the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 and the private insurance coverage gains from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have helped millions of Americans get the care they need. Two experts recently estimated that 2.8 million Americans with a substance use disorder, including about 220,000 with an opioid disorder, would lose some or all of their insurance coverage if the ACA were repealed. We, like most Americans, are opposed to this approach and urge the Trump administration to build on the work of the ACA by making treatment more available to Americans in need.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of these recommendations.

Sincerely,

Christopher S. Murphy

Richard Blumenthal


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.

Jeff Sessions’ (Unfounded) Love Letter to DARE

On Tuesday afternoon, Attorney General Jeff Sessions stood before a crowd at DARE America’s 30th International Training Conference in Grapevine, TX, and told the organization how grateful he was for its support of the war on drugs.

“No doubt about it. It helped turn the tide.”

Jeff Sessions, US attorney general

When the anti-drug group was founded in Los Angeles in 1983, the nation’s inner cities were on the precipice of a crack epidemic. “The nation rose to the occasion, and we successfully reversed those trends,” recalled Sessions, who was the US attorney for Georgia at the time.

“DARE became fundamental to our success,” he claimed. “No doubt about it. It helped turn the tide.”

One problem: Contrary to Sessions’ recollections, DARE didn’t work. Not according to the federal government, at least. In 2003, the US Government Accountability Office found “no significant differences in illicit drug use” as the result of the program. Numerous other studies supported that finding, reporting “no significant differences” between DARE students and others.

RELATED STORY

Anti-Drug Program D.A.R.E. Mistakenly Reports That “For Every One Joint of Marijuana, Four Teenagers Become Burdened with Pregnancy”

That didn’t stop Sessions from singing DARE’s praises on Tuesday—or even offering an endorsement from President Donald J. Trump himself.

“We know it worked before, and we can make it work again,” Sessions told the audience. “I support you, the president supports you, and we are determined to see if we can make a big difference in America today—and I believe that we can.”

Since taking office as Trump’s attorney general, Sessions has pushed hard to restart the drug war, urging tough prosecutions and severe criminal penalties. And although much of his rhetoric has focused on the opioid epidemic and cross-border drug cartels, he’s taken aim at legal cannabis, too.

RELATED STORY

White House Plans ‘Greater Enforcement’ Against Legal Cannabis

In February, he claimed there’s “more violence around marijuana than one would think.” In April, his Justice Department began reviewing cannabis enforcement and the so-called Cole memo, which set an unofficial DOJ policy of respecting state cannabis laws. And in May, he sent a letter to congressional leaders asking them to remove a federal spending provision that prevents prosecutors from interfering with state-legal cannabis.

Over the course of his roughly 20-minute speech Tuesday, Sessions again spoke primarily on the scourge of opioids—both those prescribed by doctors and sold on the street. When he did bring up cannabis, however, he lumped it in with other dangerous drugs.

Substances are “now more powerful, more addictive, and more dangerous than ever. Even marijuana THC content is up several times,” he said. “They’re not just dangerous for users. Even being accidentally exposed to just a few grams of fentanyl can kill a police officer or a paramedic.”

The nation’s ongoing opioid epidemic kills nearly 100 Americans each day. Prescription drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States.

Sessions is right to draw attention to the tragedy of opioid abuse. (“I’m so pained,” he said. “It hurts me so badly, to see the trends we’re on today.”) But he’s wrong to see cannabis as part of the problem. In fact, there’s good reason to believe legal cannabis has saved more lives than DARE has.

RELATED STORY

How Cannabis Could Turn the Opioid Epidemic Around

In 2014, a study found that states with medical marijuana laws saw 25% fewer deaths from opioid overdoses than states without. And early evidence suggests that cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive compound produced by the plant, could actually help treat addiction. A few drug-rehab clinics have started using cannabis to help wean addicts off harder drugs, and some states have even considering adding opioid addiction as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana.

Moreover, the popular myth that cannabis acts as a so-called gateway drug to harder drug use has largely been disproven. Even Sessions’ predecessor, then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch, said in September 2016 that “It’s not as though we’re seeing that marijuana is a specific gateway.”

“When we talk about heroin addiction, we usually, as we have mentioned, are talking about individuals that started out with a prescription drug problem, and then because they need more and more, they turn to heroin,” she said. “It isn’t so much that marijuana is the step right before using prescription drugs or opioids.”

That might be news to Sessions—at least if he’s siding with DARE. When Leafly called the organization in February 2016 asking if it still saw cannabis as a gateway drug, DARE didn’t know. “To be quite honest, I really don’t have an answer,” a spokesperson said.

RELATED STORY

Does D.A.R.E. Still Think Cannabis is a Gateway Drug? Nobody Knows

So why is the attorney general telling DARE things like, “We need you. We really need DARE”?

Apparently because so many people still remember the program from when they were kids.

“Whenever I ask adults around the age of 30 about prevention programs and what they remember, they remember the DARE program,” Sessions said Tuesday. “They consistently do.”

It’s not entirely clear what that’s supposed to prove. A lot of us remember Australia’s Stoner Sloth, too—as a joke.

I’m 31. I was in a DARE program in elementary school. I even sang a solo in my class’s DARE musical. (I’m pretty sure it was this song.) Now, almost 20 years later, I work for a cannabis publication. I’m all about responsible use, but I’ve long abandoned “just say no.”

RELATED STORY

5 Reasons Why Jeff Sessions’ Drug War Reboot Will Fail

If Sessions is serious about wanting to save lives and improve communities in his role as AG, he’ll need to improve his appreciation for nuance. Public policies based on harm reduction sometimes seem counter-intuitive at first. Treating drug addiction with another drug? At first blush, that’s outlandish. But evidence suggests it might work—if not for everyone, at least as well as a largely defunct anti-drug organization born of drug war dogma.


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.

Will Congress Let Jeff Sessions Shut Down Medical Marijuana?

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

This week, the House Appropriations Committee released its 2018 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations bill, which determines the funding levels for numerous federal agencies, including the Department of Justice. Predictably, the bill does not include language — known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment — limiting the Justice Department from taking action against state-sanctioned medical cannabis producers, retailers, or consumers.

Although the amendment was reauthorized by Congress in May, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been aggressively lobbying leadership to ignore the provisions. President Trump also issued a signing statement objecting to the Rohrbacher-Blumenauer provision.

Nonetheless, support for the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer protection amendment has only grown in recent years. House members initially initially passed the amendment as a budgetary rider in 2014 by a vote of 219 to 189. By the following year, 242 House members voted in support of the language.

Yet even with bipartisan support, the text of this amendment has never been included in “the inline text” or “the base bill” of the CJS Appropriations bill. In every case of its passage, lawmakers have needed to add the language as a separate rider to the legislation and then vote on it on the floor of the House.  

This year is no exception. Our allies in Congress anticipate a similar process to take place this fall and they are confident that we will once again be victorious — despite the best efforts of our opponents.

Reps. Blumenauer and Rohrbacher last night in a statement:

“The policy championed by Representatives Blumenauer and Rohrabacher that prevents the Department of Justice from interfering in the ability of states to implement legal medical marijuana laws (previously known as “Rohrabacher-Farr”) has never been included in the base Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) Subcommittee Appropriations bill. Rather, in previous years, Congress has amended the base CJS bill to include these protections.

We are exactly where we thought we would be in the legislative process and look forward to amending the underlying bill once again this year to make sure medical marijuana programs, and the patients who rely on them, are protected. Voters in states across the country have acted to legalize medical marijuana. Congress should not act against the will of the people who elected us.”

Thirty states now permit the doctor-authorized use of medical cannabis by statute, and an additional 16 states include statutory protections for the use of CBD. It is hard to imagine a scenario where a majority of lawmakers from these jurisdictions would vote against the best interests of their constituents, given the broad and bipartisan support that the amendment has received in the past.

It has been and will continue to be in politicians’ best interests to protect this progress and to protect voters’ freedoms from the encroachment of Jeff Sessions and the Justice Department.

Click here to send a message to your member urging them to support the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment.

Then click here to tell them to go one step further by urging them to support the newly introduced CARERS Act of 2017 which will codify these protections into law so that we no longer have to have these annual budget fights.

Tags: , , , , , , ,


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.

Koch Network Warns Trump Against ‘Failed’ Cannabis Fight

The conservative Koch political network is coming out hard against the Trump administration’s plan to step up enforcement of the nation’s cannabis laws, joining a growing group on the political right who are urging the president to push back against drug war hardliners like Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

RELATED STORY

Jeff Sessions Asks Congress to End Medical Cannabis Protections

“You are never going to win the war on drugs. Drugs won,” Mark Holden, one of the influential network’s top leaders, told reporters in Colorado Springs, according to the Denver Post. His statements  came as the network opened a three-day retreat at The Broadmoor resort in Colorado Springs.

Holden, the general counsel for Koch Industries—the second-largest privately owned company in the  US—said the network has disagreed with Sessions’s decision to re-evaluate a federal policy not to interfere in state medical marijuana systems and taken issue with the attorney general’s request that Congress lift restrictions to allow the justice department to crack down on state-legal medical programs.

RELATED STORY

The Haymaker: Which Patients Will Sessions ‘Come After’ First?

“I’m not here to say our position is legalize drugs or anything else,” Holden said. “But I don’t think that we should criminalize those types of things, and we should let the states decide.”

In a letter sent in May and made public earlier this month, Sessions urged Congress to roll back a protection known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, which prohibits the Justice Department from using federal funds to prevent certain states “from implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.” The rule has stymied at least one high-profile case against a California cannabis business.

RELATED STORY

Federal Court Bars Justice Department From Prosecuting Medical Cannabis

While he cautioned against reading too much into the network’s stance, Holden, according to the Post, told reporters that medical marijuana should be “off-limits” to federal law enforcement.

Charles and David Koch have spent millions to further their conservative political goals. Holden, who is currently in charge of a network-backed effort to address overcriminalization and criminal justice reform, said federal cannabis enforcement is another example of a “failed big government top-down approach.”


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

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


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. 

Tags: , , , , , ,


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.

Tags: , , , , , , ,


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.

Jeff Sessions Asks Congress to End Medical Cannabis Protections

When President Donald Trump signed a $1.1 trillion spending bill last month, he seemed to scoff at a provision that prevents the Justice Department from prosecuting state-legal medical cannabis. Now his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, wants to do away with the protection completely.

In a May 1 letter to congressional leaders, Sessions urged federal lawmakers to oppose the provision, known as the Rohrabacher–Blumenauer amendment. It’s yet another sign that, despite the president’s past support of medical marijuana, his administration appears to be planning a crackdown on state-legal cannabis.

“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.

RELATED STORY

Justice Department Turns Attention to Cannabis Enforcement

“The Department,” he continued, “must be in a position to use all laws available to combat the transnational drug organizations and dangerous drug traffickers who threaten American lives.”

The letter was sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi., was obtained by cannabis reporter and legalization advocate Tom Angell.

To justify his request, Sessions trots out a parade of prohibitionist talking points. He references the ongoing opioid epidemic, for example, but fails to note that states with legalized medical cannabis have seen opioid deaths decline by an average of 25%. He wrings his hands over “transnational drug organizations and dangerous traffickers,” but omits the fact that the Rohrabacher–Blumenauer amendment protects only state-legal cannabis actors.

RELATED STORY

Here’s What the National Academy’s Medical Cannabis Report Actually Says

And, for good measure, he notes that the DEA “concluded that ‘marijuana has a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision’”—despite the growing body of research that  suggests cannabis is safer and more effective than many Food and Drug Administration-approved pharmaceuticals.

The Rohrabacher–Farr amendment, last renewed in April, is set to expire in September if not renewed by Congress.

Sessions’s full letter is available at MassRoots.


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.

Introducing ‘The Haymaker,’ Leafly’s Politics & Culture Column. This Week: Sessions Out?

Editor’s Note: This week marks the debut of The Haymaker, Leafly Deputy Editor Bruce Barcott’s weekly column on cannabis politics, culture, law and controversy. 

My phone was buzzing with breaking news alerts here at Leafly World Headquarters yesterday. “Sessions Offered to Quit During Exchange With Trump” said CNN. “Sessions Offered in Recent Months to Resign,” teased the Washington Post.

When the king views disagreement as betrayal, everyone is doomed to eventually betray the king. Even Jeff Sessions.

After nearly six months, we here in the Leafly newsroom have gradually acclimated to Tropical Storm Trump. We don’t shock easy. But this latest turn in the American telenovela elicited a gasp.

When the king views common disagreement as personal betrayal, everyone is doomed to eventually betray the king. Even, apparently, Jeff Sessions—the first senator to endorse Trump, and one of his most loyal surrogates.

This ongoing intrigue would be irrelevant to our world if not for one fact: Attorney General Jeff Sessions exercises inordinate power over the legal cannabis industry. He’s been consistent in his public condemnation of all forms of legalization, even medical marijuana. And he’s signaled that he’s prepared to act on those beliefs.

RELATED STORY

How Many of These DEA ‘Cannabis Slang’ Terms Do You Know?

Recusal = Betrayal

First, the backstory: In March, the attorney general recused himself from the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

In any other administration, this would have been a accepted as a prudent move. Sessions is a person of interest in the FBI’s investigation into the matter, having held meetings with the Russian ambassador that he neglected to disclose to the Senate during his confirmation process. The FBI is an agency of the Department of Justice, which is run by Jeff Sessions. A recusal was the only right and decent move here. Sessions, to his credit, made it.

The palace intrigue matters because Sessions holds inordinate power over the cannabis industry.

But Trump apparently took that recusal as a personal betrayal. “The president’s anger has lingered for months,” according to White House sources contacted by the Washington Post.  Sessions’ recusal, in Trump’s eyes, was the move that opened the door for the appointment of special counsel Robert S. Mueller, who is now overseeing the DOJ’s Russia investigation.

It’s become increasingly apparent that President Trump believes the nation’s top law enforcement officials should protect him by subverting ongoing federal investigations. When they don’t, he reads it as personal betrayal. That’s why he fired former FBI Director James Comey. That’s why he’s steaming mad at one of his most loyal lieutenants, Jeff Sessions.

RELATED STORY

5 Reasons Why Jeff Sessions’ Drug War Reboot Will Fail

‘You’re fired.’ Then What?

Let’s say Sessions gets the boot. It’s not hard to imagine Comey’s long-awaited testimony, scheduled to begin tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. Eastern, throwing President Trump into a tantrum that finds relief only in the utterance of those two most Trumpian words: You’re fired.

And if that happens…

America, meet Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Meet McDreamy: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)Meet McDreamy: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Let’s play this out. If Trump were to fire Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein would immediately step in as acting AG.

He would likely remain Acting Attorney General Rosenstein for the remainder of Trump’s term.

The odds of Trump appointing a new attorney general, and that AG nominee surviving the confirmation process, are slim. I believe the technical Vegas term is “heavy dog.”

Personal loyalty is clearly Trump’s main job requirement. The number of candidates who possess both credentials for the job and the loyalty card can probably be counted on one hand. Let’s see… Rudy Giuliani. That’s one. Newt Gingrich makes two. Sen. Bob Corker? He and Gingrich aren’t actually lawyers, but that’s not a legal disqualifier. Kris Kobach? Trump is not in the business of partnering with hicks from Kansas. Chris Christie? In polite company Trump is said to believe that Christie does not “look the part,” which is code for saying that the president considers him a fat loser.

Can’t Fill the Posts, or Won’t

The White House has a hard enough time finding candidates to fill the hundreds of jobs that require Congressional confirmation. Of 559 key positions requiring Senate confirmation, Trump has offered no nominee for 441. Not filling positions has been floated as a proactive strategy to shrink the federal bureaucracy, part of Steve Bannon’s plan to “deconstruct the administrative state.” If so, well, bang-up job. But at the same time…

Rosenstein Could Calm the Ship

One of the few officials who has managed to keep his reputation somewhat intact is our man Rod Rosenstein. Rosenstein was the one with the cojones to appoint Robert Mueller as the DOJ’s special counsel leading the Russia investigation. Rosenstein reportedly threatened to resign when Trump used him as cover for the James Comey firing. (At the same time: Rosenstein did write the mind-boggling memo that justified Comey’s firing based on Comey’s handling of Hillary Clinton’s emails.)

If Sessions departs, Rosenstein could solve a lot of problems for Trump simply by running the Justice Department as its Acting Attorney General for the rest of the President’s term. If Trump bumped him up to the head job—which is doubtful, given Trump’s distrust of his personal loyalty—Rosenstein is one of the few who has enough support in the Senate to survive confirmation. In 2005, President George W. Bush appointed Rosenstein as US attorney in Maryland. He proved to be so effective and nonpartisan that President Obama chose to keep him.

All of which points to a likely conclusion: If Rosenstein takes over as acting AG, don’t expect a splashy big-name boss to fill Jeff Sessions’ shoes. It’ll be Rosenstein’s DOJ to run.

RELATED STORY

Brooklyn DA Challenges Sessions, Says Decriminalization Works

Where’s He Stand on Cannabis?

As head of the Justice Department, Rosenstein would likely tone down the rhetoric on cannabis. Sessions considers marijuana legalization a personal affront to his most deeply held values. Rosenstein shows no such inclination.

The war on drugs just isn’t Rod Rosenstein’s jam.

When he was Maryland’s chief federal prosecutor, Rosenstein directed his office to go after large-scale criminal drug operations. “We have pretty clear guidance from the attorney general to continue to pursue cases involving drug distribution in violation of state law,” he told the Baltimore Sun in late 2013.

The key phrase there is “in violation of state law.” When Maryland’s state legislature passed medical marijuana legalization in 2014, Rosenstein did not stand in the way of progress on the issue. In fact, trying to find any sort of past statement from Rosenstein on cannabis legalization leads to a teeth-gnashing dive into the deeper pools of Google. Prohibition and the war on drugs just aren’t Rosenstein’s jam.

Would that attitude continue if he held the reins of the Justice Department? We may soon be fortunate enough to find out.


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.