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AG Jeff Sessions Targets Medical Marijuana Users

(From the 2017 archives)

If medical marijuana use was a type of corn, it would be pop. If it was a color, it would be primary. If it was a type of weather, it would be “Ahhhh, perfect.” Medical pot is just that popular.

Nearly 3 in 4 voters oppose enforcement of federal laws that conflict with state medical marijuana laws, according to a recent poll out of Quinnipiac University. That same poll suggests an incredible 19 in 20 voters support allowing an adult to use medical cannabis when prescribed by their doctor.

In a time when everyone seems so divided, the overwhelming support of medical marijuana from voters of all stars and stripes can be… well, overwhelming.

So, why did Attorney General Jeff Sessions send a letter to Congressional leaders asking them to remove federal medical marijuana protections?

And, how will it affect medical marijuana users in Colorado and around the country?

The Justice Department Takes a Stance

Given the rampant support of medical marijuana use, the Sessions letter may seem surprising. But, is the stance of the current Justice Department really so different from the last?

Before the 2013 Cole Memorandum, the Justice Department was inconsistent in its enforcement of federal marijuana laws. At one point, they began cracking down on medical marijuana and took a hard line stance against cannabis use “regardless of state law.”

It would seem that Sessions’ letter is the Justice Department telling Congress they’d like to change their stance again.

And, that could have very serious repercussions for marijuana users.

The Potential Impact to Medical Marijuana Users

Currently, the Justice Department is prohibited from spending money to enforce federal laws that conflict with state medical marijuana laws.

This is thanks to the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment (now the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment) – a medical cannabis rider attached to a spending bill. In the past, the Rohrabacher-Farr rider has been approved with inspiring bipartisan support. But, the spending bill that includes the provision set to expire after Sep 30.

Given that more than half of the states in the U.S. have legalized medical marijuana and more than 90 percent of the public approves of its use, it’s easy to assume the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment will be approved again before the Sep 30 deadline. But, it will take more than a rider in a spending bill for medical marijuana users and business owners to truly feel their rights are secure. There are simply too many ways the provision could be changed or lost.

The best option would be to see cannabis unscheduled at the federal level, effectively eliminating prohibition of the plant. This would also serve to protect the recreational pot industry, which remains vulnerable to a potential federal crackdown.

If recent elections here and across the pond have shown us anything, it’s that polls should be taken with a large grain of salt. But, even with a spoonful of salt it seems clear that American voters are in favor of medical marijuana.

The question remains, will Congress and the Justice Department get on board or will we have to continue the annual Rohrabacher rider dance?

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