m.d. m.j.

Sessions' WAR on Pot

The future of legalization and decriminalization hits a major snag


“As more states prepare to decriminalize or outright legalize next year, be warned: The feds are moving tentatively toward some measure of pushback, in forms as-yet-undetermined.” I wrote that a few weeks ago, in response to remarks by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who said on Dec. 8, “I think it’s a big issue for America, for the country, and I’m of the general view that this is not a healthy substance.”

Unlike the majority of his colleagues in the Trump Administration, Sessions is actually a man of his word and, as predicted last month, the aforementioned pushback has begun. He announced on Jan. 4 that, in the future, federal prosecutors will have sole discretion to decide what happens when state laws conflict with federal law. In other words, millions of citizens from coast to coast have been told their votes are about as worthless as, say, a sworn deposition of Jeff Sessions.

Liberals are mad, because they like to smoke the pot. Conservatives are mad, because now they must admit that decades of rhetoric about “states’ rights” was really just code for racist voter suppression policies, which everyone already knew. Governors of the 22 pot-friendly states (11 of whom are Republicans) are outraged, because Sessions is pulling rank on them, personally, and moving to take billions out of their pockets.

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), a frequent critic of the administration, described the move as “disruptive” and “regrettable” in a statement to the Associated Press; she might as well just print those words on flash cards, since they seem to come up so often. At least one federal prosecutor, Colorado’s Bob Troyer, has already said he doesn’t care what Sessions thinks, to whatever extent he actually thinks at all. We could debate that question all day.

The medical marijuana community was quick to respond. Surterra Wellness CEO Jake Bergmann, an industry leader in Florida, issued a statement within minutes. “This callous move by Jeff Sessions will not impact the patients of Florida in any way,” he wrote. “This is real medicine, and we have hundreds of stories from real people to prove it. … Add to all that there are no documented cases of someone dying from marijuana, but almost 100 families in America lose a loved one because of opiates each and every day.

“We need to stop allowing an 80-year-old propaganda campaign that has been perpetuated by pro-pharma special interests to continue and stop denying access to medicine derived from marijuana.”

One hopes the growing chorus of bipartisan voices calling for Sessions’ resignation due to his failures in other areas will carry the day, but don’t count on it. There’s no way of knowing just how all this will affect Florida, or any of the 21 other states that liberalized marijuana laws in recent years. All have been put on notice, and it seems inevitable that battlelines will be drawn, somewhere.

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