U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions isn’t a fan of weed, and he’s showing it with his latest move: asking Congressional leaders not to renew a current federal law that prevents the Department of Justice from spending money to interfere with state medical marijuana laws.
The letter that was sent to Capitol Hill last month reads, “I believe it would be unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the Department to fund particular prosecutions, particularly in the midst of a historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime,” Sessions wrote in a letter to Republican and Democratic House and Senate leadership. “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.”
These federal protections are the result of a rider known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment which has been enacted into law with strong bipartisan votes for the past three fiscal years.
What threatens this amendment now is the fact that Trump signed a fiscal year 2017 omnibus appropriations bill into law last month that included a signing statement which basically reserved the right to ignore the medical marijuana protections. He wrote, “I will treat this provision consistently with my constitutional responsibility to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”
This would seem to be reversing Trumps earlier campaign pledge during that he would respect state marijuana laws if elected. He’d also stated that he supports medical cannabis “100 percent,” noting that he personally knows people who have benefited from it.
Sessions has made no secret of his disdain for marijuana, long being one of Congress’ most vocal legalization opponents. When still in his role as a U.S. senator last year, he stated that, “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” and repeatedly criticized the Obama administration’s approach of respecting the right of states to set their own cannabis policies.
In this newest letter to Congress, Sessions wrote that marijuana use has “significant negative health effects,” arguing that it is “linked to an increased risk of psychiatric disorders such as psychosis, respiratory ailments such as lung infections, cognitive impairments such as IQ loss, and substance use disorder and addiction.”