Attorney General Jeff Sessions is in the news for two reasons today: he’s testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee on his possible links to Russia and a letter he wrote to Congress indicating his disapproval of the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment has surfaced.
Last month we reported that Congress extended the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment. No sooner was this extension passed, but Sessions wrote to Congress seeking its repeal. As many readers know, the Amendment prohibits the Justice Department from using federal funds to prevent states from implementing their own medical marijuana laws. It is, in essence, a victory for states’ rights, in the sense that they can decide whether to make medical marijuana legal, without fear of federal government interference.
Yesterday massroots.com, and today The Washington Post reported that in May, Sessions wrote to Congress stating that “it would be unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the Department [of Justice] to fund particular prosecutions, particularly in the midst of an historic drug epidemic and potentially long term uptick in violent crime.”
Of course, the “historic drug epidemic” to which Sessions refers has nothing to do with cannabis, but involves opiates, and, according to the Washington Post, a growing body of research shows that opiate overdoses decrease in states in which medical marijuana is legal. Sessions also wrote that “[t]he Department must be in a position to use all laws available to combat the transnational drug organizations and dangerous traffickers who threaten American lives.” It is difficult to understand how Rohrabacher-Farr prevents the federal government from enforcing the Controlled Substances Act against those engaged in trafficking in drugs across state lines.
Sessions’ position is contrary to that of the President who expressed support for medical marijuana laws during his campaign. However, over the past several months there have been a number of mixed signals from the Administration regarding enforcement of the federal prohibition on the possession and sale of cannabis. These mixed signals have created tremendous uncertainty in all segments of the cannabis industry, but it is hard to believe that the Administration really intends to disrupt what has become a multi-billion dollar industry.