In a letter dated May 1 of this year, Attorney General Jeff Sessions wrote privately to Congressional leaders urging them to remove a provision in the spending legislation that prohibits the Justice Department from cracking down on state-legal medical marijuana .
The letter was revealed Monday by Massroots.com and subsequently verified by The Washington Post.
That provision in the appropriation law, dubbed the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, prohibits the Justice Department from using any of its funds to prevent states from “implementing their own laws prohibiting the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana”. .” As Ars previously reported, this provision was present in the fiscal year 2017 credit law and has existed for years.
Sessions wants to make sure it’s not in the credit law for 2018.
The Obama administration also wanted to scrap the provision — or at least weaken it. The Obama Justice Department attempted to interpret the provision as protecting state governments, not necessarily individuals. But last year, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the provision effectively protects state-legal medical marijuana growers, patients and dispensaries.
In his letter, Sessions says the ruling allows a loophole for dangerous criminals to go unpunished if the provision is enforced. Sessions goes further, arguing that because the country is “in the midst of a historic drug epidemic and possibly a protracted increase in violent crime,” the DOJ “should be able to use all available laws to control the transnational drug organizations and dangerous drug traffickers that make up U.S. threaten lives.”
As the After notes that Sessions seems to deliberately confuse the use of medical marijuana with the opioid epidemic, which is historic and devastating. However, research suggests that the availability of medical marijuana actually exists decreases opioid overdoses and deaths.
Sessions then offers a laundry list of potential risks of marijuana use, including cognitive impairment.
In an email to the AfterJohn Hudak of the Brookings Institution characterized the letter’s arguments as a “scare tactic” but suggested that it “might appeal to rank-and-file members or committee chairs in Congress in ways that could jeopardize the future of this amendment.”
However, there has been broad bipartisan support for the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment in the past. And support among Americans for medical marijuana is at an all-time high, reaching 94 percent in one poll.