Will Jeff Sessions go After Legal Medical Marijuana?
WASHINGTON, D.C - On December 8, the deadline for Congress to decide if their federal funding bill will include the Rohrabacher-Farr Act will arrive. The government’s bill provides funding for the subsequent fiscal year, and the Rohrabacher-Farr Act is a law that prevents the Department of Justice from prosecuting legal state medical marijuana cases with federal money.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced today that he met with other U.S. Department of Justice officials to debate changing federal policy on prosecuting marijuana, signaling the bill will not include the law.
He told reporters that “We’re working on that very hard right now. We had meetings yesterday and talked about it at some length. It’s my view that the use of marijuana is detrimental, and we should not give encouragement in any way to it. And it represents a federal violation which is in the law and is subject to being enforced, and our priorities will have to be focused on all the things and challenges that we face.” Sessions was speaking at a press conference to reveal his new plan to fight the opioid epidemic.
The statement is a reversal of what Sessions said two weeks ago when he told the House that he would uphold the Obama Administrations policy on prosecuting medical marijuana in legal states. "Our policy is the same, really, fundamentally as the Holder-Lynch policy, which is that the federal law remains in effect and a state can legalize marijuana for its law enforcement purposes, but it still remains illegal with regard to federal purposes. " He added that he now believed that marijuana was not as dangerous as opiates.
In yet another reversal, the Attorney General lumped marijuana in with fatal drugs, claiming “We’ve got fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and prescription drugs and marijuana and other drugs. So, we’ll be working our way through to a rational policy. But I don’t want to suggest in any way that this Department believes that marijuana is harmless, and people should not avoid it.”
Sessions’ obsession with prosecuting marijuana is well known. He sent a letter to Congress last May aggressively requesting they lift protections, effectively permitting him to prosecute marijuana cases in legal states. He said in the letter that “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." His comments today indicate that he has no plans to honor his words about upholding the Obama Administration’s policies.