United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions personally pleaded with Congress to oppose a provision in the federal spending bill that protects medical marijuana providers operating in accordance with state laws from federal enforcement actions so that the Department of Justice can prosecute medical marijuana cases.
This is according to an exclusive letter obtained by MassRoots Senior Political Correspondent Tom Angell.
In the letter, which was independently verified by the Washington Post, Sessions asked Congressional leaders to undo a federal law known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which prohibits the Department of Justice from using federal funds to prosecute medical marijuana providers and patients in states where it is legal.
“I believe it would be unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the Department to fund particular prosecutions, particularly in the midst of an historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime,” Sessions wrote in the letter. “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.”
Despite Session’s argument, most experts note that violent crime in the United States has been on the decline for the last 20 years and the recent epidemic of drug addiction afflicting the nation has been fueled by the proliferation of prescription opioids and not medical marijuana.
Certain studies actually suggest that states that enact medical marijuana laws see a reduction in opioid-related addiction and overdose rates.
On May 13, 2017, Sessions was originally scheduled to testify before both the House and Senate appropriations subcommittees to discuss his request but had to cancel his appearance in order to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee to explain his undisclosed meetings with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testified in Sessions’ place.
While President Donald Trump signed the 2017 omnibus funding bill on May 5, which covers federal funding through Sept. 30 and includes the provision protecting state-legal medical marijuana, Trump immediately issued a signing statement indicating that he may use his “constitutional responsibility to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” i.e., ignore the medical marijuana protection provision.
With the federal spending bill for fiscal year 2018 being prepared, 44 members of Congress decided to send a letter on April 4 to the House Appropriations Subcommittee to ask that it draft its bill so that the DOJ has to respect state medical marijuana laws.