Tag: Trump Administration

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.

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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.

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“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.

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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

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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.

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.

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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‘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.

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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.

California Assembly OKs Bill to Prevent Cooperation With Feds on Enforcement

Despite pushback from law enforcement groups, the California Assembly late Thursday night moved forward with a bill to prevent state and local police from assisting with federal enforcement of cannabis laws.

The bill’s author, Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), argued that the legislation is necessary to protect the state’s legal cannabis system from the Trump administration, which has threatened to step up enforcement of federal prohibition. But critics warned that failing to cooperate with federal drug agents would put local police in “harm’s way.”

The legislation, Assembly Bill 1578, squeaked through the Assembly on a 41–32 vote. It now heads to the Senate.

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Some Republican lawmakers blasted the measure, which many have compared to the so-called “sanctuary state” bill advancing through the Legislature. That measure would prohibit police from cooperating with federal immigration enforcement officials. Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach), called the proposal “insanity.”

“This is a complete violation of federal law,” he argued on the Assembly floor. “The hubris of California Democrats believing they can flout federal law on immigration and drug policy is beyond words.”

In a post about the measure, however, the constitutional law publication Tenth Amendment Center explained the legal grounding for the bill. “Provisions withdrawing state and local enforcement of federal law in AB1578 rest on a well-established legal principle known as the anti-commandeering doctrine,” the center wrote. “Simply put, the federal government cannot force states to help implement or enforce any federal act or program.”

Others worried the bill could prevent the detection of illegal cannabis activity within the state’s legal market. The bill specifies that it’s meant to protect only Californians complying with state law, but Jones-Sawyer said he would be open to revising the bill’s wording to clarify that cooperation would be allowed when state laws are violated. There are about 1,400 illegally operating dispensaries in Los Angeles, Jones-Sawyer added, that he himself would like to see shut down.

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The goal of AB 1578, explained Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Alameda), the bill’s co-author, is to ensure that law-abiding individuals don’t have to fear California law enforcement over conduct that the state has legalized.

“People who are compliant with California law and operate within the legal cannabis market should not have to fear that a state or local agency will participate in efforts to punish or incarcerate them for activity that the state and its voters have deemed legal,” he said.

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Other legal cannabis states, such as Washington, Oregon, and Colorado, are also considering legislation aimed at protecting state-legal cannabis from federal interference. A Colorado measure would allow adult-use cannabis businesses to immediately reclassify themselves as medical marijuana businesses to take advantage of limited federal protection under the Rohrabacher–Blumenauer amendment, a congressional spending provision that bans federal prosecutors from going after state-compliant medical marijuana actors.

As the Los Angeles Times reports, the California Assembly also approved a bill that would merge rules from the state’s medical marijuana laws with those from Proposition 64, which voters passed in November to legalize cannabis for adult use:

That bill, which also now goes to the Senate for consideration, allows medical cannabis facilities that are for-profit, bans pot billboards on interstate and state highways, requires state licenses after officials determine recreational-use businesses comply with local ordinances, and provides $3 million to the California Highway Patrol for developing drugged-driving enforcement plans.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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.

DOJ Turns Attention to Cannabis Enforcement

WASHINGTON (AP) — A zealous prosecutor who was crucial in writing the Justice Department’s new policy encouraging harsher punishments for criminals is now turning his attention to hate crimes, marijuana and the ways law enforcement seizes suspects’ cash and property.

Steve Cook’s hardline views on criminal justice were fortified as a cop on the streets of Knoxville, Tennessee, in the late 1970s and early ‘80s. The unabashed drug warrior is now armed with a broad mandate to review departmental policies, and observers already worried about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ agenda are wringing their hands at Cook’s ascension.

After some 30 years of prosecuting mostly violent crimes, Cook sums up his philosophy in simple terms that crystalized one night on patrol when he came upon a family whose station wagon had been hit head-on by a “pilled-up drug user.” Two daughters were dead in the backseat. In Cook’s eyes, everyone had to be punished, including the courier who shuttled the drugs into town and the dealer who sold them to the man behind the wheel.

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“This theory that we have embraced since the beginning of civilization is, when you put criminals in prison, crime goes down,” he told The Associated Press during a recent interview. “It really is that simple.”

It is actually a widely challenged view, seen by many as far from simple. But it is one that governs Cook as he helps oversee a new Justice Department task force developing policies to fight violent crime in cities. Already he is pushing ideas that even some Republicans have dismissed as outdated and fiscally irresponsible.

Cook helped craft Sessions’ directive this month urging the nation’s federal prosecutors to seek the steepest penalties for most crime suspects, a move that will send more people to prison for longer, and which was assailed by critics as a revival of failed drug war policies that ravaged minority communities.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder, whose more lenient policies contributed to a decline in the federal prison population for the first time in decades, slammed the reversal of his work as “driven by voices who have not only been discredited but until now have been relegated to the fringes of this debate.”

Cook finds the criticism baffling. All this discussion of criminal justice changes takes the focus off the real victims, he said: drug addicts, their families and those killed and injured as the nation’s opioid epidemic rages.

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“For me, it’s like the world is turned upside-down,” Cook said in an interview with The Associated Press. “We now somehow see these drug traffickers as the victims. That’s just bizarre to me.”

Even some police and prosecutors supported recent bipartisan efforts to reduce some mandatory minimum sentences and give judges greater discretion in sentencing, a reversal of 1980s and ’90s-era “tough-on-crime” laws. But Cook sees today’s relatively low crime rates as a sign that those policies worked.

Long, mandatory minimum sentences can goad informants into cooperating and ensure drug peddlers stay locked up for as long as possible, he said.

As a defense attorney in 1986, Bill Killian recalled being unable to convince Cook — then a rookie prosecutor — to agree to leniency for his client, whom he described as a minor player in a massive meth lab operating in the wooded farmland of eastern Tennessee. The man had no criminal past and was not profiting like the ringleaders.

“He wanted the maximum, whatever the maximum could be,” Killian said. More than 20 years later, Killian became U.S. attorney for that region, and Cook was chief of the criminal division, overseeing mostly violent crime, gang and drug cases.

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When Holder told prosecutors in 2013 that they could leave drug quantities out of charging documents, so as not to charge certain suspects with crimes that would trigger long sentences, Cook was aghast, Killian said. Killian, meanwhile, embraced Holder’s so-called smart-on-crime approach, which encouraged leniency for offenders who weren’t violent or weren’t involved in leading an organization.

Obama administration officials cited a drop in the overall number of drug prosecutions as evidence the policies were working as intended. Holder argued prosecutors were getting pickier about the cases they were bringing and said data showed they could be just as successful inducing cooperation from defendants without leveraging the threat of years-long mandatory minimum punishments.

But to Cook, there is no such thing as a low-level offender.

“Steve Cook thinks that everyone who commits a crime ought to be locked up in jail,” Killian said. “He and I have philosophical differences about that that won’t ever be reconciled.”

Now Cook is detailed to the deputy attorney general’s office in Washington, studying policies to see how they reconcile with Sessions’ top priorities: quashing illegal immigration and violence. Cook has been traveling the country alongside Sessions as he espouses his tough-on-crime agenda, seeking input from law enforcement officials that he will take to the task force as it crafts its recommendations, which are due in July.

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He offers no hints about what lies ahead. But those advocating changes to the justice system are nervous. With Sessions and Cook in powerful positions, such efforts are in peril, said Kevin Ring, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums.

“You’ve put the arch enemies of criminal justice reform in charge of the U.S. Justice Department, you’ve made the hill a little steep,” he said. Of Cook, he added, “He is out of central casting for old school prosecutors, and he’s nothing if not earnest. I think he is profoundly misguided, but it’s certainly not an act.”

The National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys, which Cook led before his new assignment, said his ascendancy within the Justice Department bodes well for prosecutors who felt handcuffed by Obama-era policies.

Lawrence Leiser, the group’s new president, called him inspiring.

“His heart and soul is in everything he does,” he said. “And he is a strong believer in the rule of law.”

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DEA Chief Repeats Claim That ‘Marijuana Is Not Medicine’

“Marijuana is not medicine.”

That’s according to Chuck Rosenberg, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s acting chief, who made the comment Thursday during a speech at the Cleveland Clinic, a nonprofit hospital in Ohio.

The sentiment is nothing new from Rosenberg, who’s been at the helm of the DEA since 2015. Under then-President Obama, he famously called medical marijuana “a joke.” But in light of recent anti-cannabis comments from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and other members of the Trump administration, it could be yet another cause for concern among cannabis patients.

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“If it turns out that there is something in smoked marijuana that helps people, that’s awesome,” Rosenberg said in Ohio on Thursday. “I will be the last person to stand in the way of that. … But let’s run it through the Food and Drug Administration process, and let’s stick to the science on it.”

According to the Washington Examiner, Rosenberg did acknowledge that some studies that show cannabis may offer medical benefits to children with epilepsy, and he reiterated that the DEA takes recommendations about how to classify drugs from the FDA.

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The problem, of course, is that cannabis continues to be classified as a Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act, categorized alongside drugs such as heroin and LSD. That means considerable regulatory red tape for researchers trying to actually study the plant and its health effects. Even when scientists do secure federal approval to conduct research, the government-grown cannabis used in clinical trials is of significantly worse quality than cannabis in legal markets. PBS Newshour described one sample as “green talcum powder.”

Another Cleveland Clinic speaker, former US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, echoed the call for more medical marijuana research in the US, adding that public policy shouldn’t be made on “guesswork.”

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“Should we be reducing the administrative and other barriers to researching that in the government? A hundred percent,” he said. “But what we should not do is make policies based on guesswork. When we do that, what we do is put people at risk.”

Murthy also said that problem drug use in young people can spiral out of control.

“When you develop a substance use disorder at a young age, it actually increases the likelihood of you developing an addiction to other substances,” he said. “So in that sense addiction to marijuana or any substance, including nicotine, during adolescence and young adulthood when the brain is developing is very concerning.”

While more research is essential for better understanding how cannabis affects the human body and how it might address various illnesses, available evidence suggests that, in adults, cannabis may actually curb some types of drug use. Last month the National Institute on Drug Abuse updated its website titled “Is marijuana safe and effective as medicine?” to note that three recent studies—two of which it funded—suggest cannabis could help reduce opioid use in pain patients.

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“Though none of these studies are definitive, they cumulatively suggest that medical marijuana products may have a role in reducing the use of opioids needed to control pain,” the NIDA website says. “More research is needed to investigate this possibility.”


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.