Will Sessions’ Reversal of Marijuana Enforcement Lead To Federal-States Confrontation
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Only three days after California opened its first legal weed dispensary, the reversal from the Justice Department has left the burgeoning industry in doubt. On Thursday, Attorney Sessions announced that he was rewriting the federal government’s stance on marijuana prosecution, repealing the 2013 Obama-era policy that protected legalized marijuana programs in various states from federal intervention. Sessions wanted federal prosecutors to treat pot as a “dangerous drug” and to pursue marijuana cases at their own discretion. Keep in mind that according to a new Pew Research Center study released, 60% of Americans believe pot should be legalized. Such growing public support has doubled since 2000, indicating that both medical and recreational marijuana has blossomed at the state level across USA.
“It is the mission of the Department of Justice to enforce the laws of the United States, and the previous issuance of guidance undermines the rule of law,” Sessions said in a statement announcing the change.
Session’s memo to prosecutors, “weigh all relevant considerations, including federal law enforcement priorities set by the attorney general, the seriousness of the crime, the deterrent effect of criminal prosecution and the cumulative impact of particular crimes on the community.” has sparked outrage among advocates for legalized marijuana in New York and around the country.
Twenty-nine states, including New York, have legalized medical marijuana. Eight states, including CA, MA, and CO, have legalized recreational marijuana.
“Congress needs to do something.” said state Senator Diane Savino (D-NY 23rd District) who sponsored the 2014 law that legalized medical marijuana in NY. State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker vowed to protect medical marijuana patients in a statement, “These patients need help, and we cannot turn our backs on them.” Zucker said, “We are committed to ensuring that all New Yorkers who qualify are able to access this therapy.”
Both Republicans and Democrats lawmakers also attacked Sessions’ move on Thursday. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders called on Sessions to reverse his decision, “no one who has seriously studied the issue believes that marijuana should be classified as a Schedule 1 drug beside killer drugs like heroin.”
This sudden repeal of the Obama-era policy on marijuana will surely create a mess for the court system as well as the police. But keep in mind that Jeff Sessions is a law enforcer (Attorney General), not a lawmaker. In circumstance such as this, our Congress (composed of lawmakers) needs to do something, as indicated by Senator Diane Savino above. Perhaps classifying the use of marijuana in the same category as use of alcohol, under the same regulatory agency, so that both state and federal governments will be able to tax the use of marijuana would not be such a bad idea.
Let’s take a look at some research and history in “The Truth About Medical Marijuana” by University of California Television (UCTV) back in 2008, below:
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