Cole Memo Rescinded: Medical Marijuana Program Ramifications

Medical Marijuana Program Ramifications in Maryland and Nationwide

So word has it that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is going to rescind the Cole memo that has kept the Feds out of legal cannabis states. Sessions will instead let federal prosecutors decide how aggressively to enforce federal marijuana laws in states where marijuana is legal.

Do We Really Need Jeff Sessions for our Medical and Recreational Marijuana Programs?

Are we all ready for Jeff Sessions to go away yet? I mean this is the man that compared cannabis to heroin and has blamed it for spikes in violence, among other things. He believes “good people” don’t use cannabis. The man refuses to read the studies showing the benefits of cannabis as well as refuses to listen to the American people. Polls show that the majority of people are certainly in favor of some form of legal cannabis.

Why Does Jeff Sessions Want to Keep Marijuana Illegal?

Maybe it’s his interests in private prisons that drive his desire to incarcerate people for consuming a natural plant that has been proven to have medicinal properties. Remember the same Federal Government that wants to lock you up for using cannabis is the same entity that holds the patent on cannabis as a medical compound.

A task force Sessions convened to study pot policy made no recommendations for upending the legal industry but instead encouraged Justice Department officials to keep reviewing the Obama administration’s more hands-off approach to marijuana enforcement. Sessions, who served as a federal prosecutor at the height of the drug war in Mobile, Alabama, has reversed Obama-era criminal justice policies.

Those policies aimed to ease overcrowding in federal prisons and contributed to a rethinking of how drug criminals were prosecuted and sentenced. While his Democratic predecessor Eric Holder told federal prosecutors to avoid seeking long mandatory minimum sentences when charging certain lower level drug offenders, Sessions issued an order demanding the opposite, seeking the most serious charges possible against most suspects.

The People Have Spoken: Marijuana Should NOT be illegal!

Marijuana for medical purposes

How much more convoluted can we make this? People currently using medical or recreational cannabis in legal states have always been breaking Federal law, as cannabis is still against federal law. The cannabis business has since become a sophisticated, multi-million dollar industry that helps fund schools, educational programs and law enforcement.

Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use, and California’s sales alone are projected to bring in $1 billion annually in tax revenue within several years. What do you think would happen if the Feds went in and busted a cannabis business that was acting in accordance to state laws?

My guess is the states and the people won’t stand for it. It certainly won’t win any votes for Republicans either. Why would you vote for someone who cost your community jobs and a ton of tax revenue, while also prosecuting people following state law?

Many Governors and Members of Congress Have Reacted to Session’s Threats:

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown issued a statement:

“Reports that Attorney General Jeff Sessions will roll back federal marijuana policy are deeply concerning and disruptive to our state’s economy. Over 19,000 jobs have been created by the market Oregon worked carefully to build in good faith and in accordance with the Cole Memorandum.

The federal government must keep its promise to states that relied on its guidance. States are the laboratories of democracy, where progressive policies are developed and implemented for the benefit of their people. Voters in Oregon were clear when they chose for Oregon to legalize the sale of marijuana and the federal government should not stand in the way of the will of Oregonians.

My staff and state agencies are working to evaluate reports of the Attorney General’s decision and will fight to continue Oregon’s commitment to a safe and prosperous recreational marijuana market.”

Republican Sen. Cory Gardner posted a Tweet blasting Sessions’ reported decision:

“This reported action directly contradicts what Attorney General Sessions told me prior to his confirmation,” the Coloradan posted on Twitter. “With no prior notice to Congress, the Justice Department has trampled on the will of the voters in CO and other states. (President Donald Trump) had it right. This must be left up to the states.

Colorado congresswoman Diana DeGette, Chief Deputy Whip, said in a statement:

“This step could drag us back to the days of raids on legal dispensaries and people living in fear being jailed for using the medical marijuana they need. It could create a chilling effect on an industry that employs thousands of people in Colorado alone, where sales now top $1 billion per year. The federal government shouldn’t take punitive steps that undermine the will of our citizens expressed at the state level.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont released a statement:

“No, Attorney General Sessions. Marijuana is not the same as heroin. No one who has seriously studied the issue believes that marijuana should be classified as a Schedule 1 drug beside killer drugs like heroin. Quite the contrary. We should allow states the right to move toward the decriminalization of marijuana, not reverse the progress that has been made in recent years.”

Perhaps my favorite quote is from New York Senator Kristen Gillibrand:

“Attorney General Sessions’ reported decision is a direct attack on patients. Parents should be able to give their sick kids the medicine they need without having to fear that they will be prosecuted. Veterans should be able to come home from combat and use the medicine they need without having to fear they will be prosecuted.

This is about public health, and it’s about reforming our broken criminal justice system that throws too many minorities in prison for completely nonviolent offenses. I urge my colleagues to join me in fighting this shortsighted decision and supporting my broadly bipartisan bill, the CARERS Act, to keep the federal government out of the way when doctors and patients decide that medical marijuana is the best treatment for them.”

There is much more to come on this. Keep fighting the good and just fight.