U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is trying to convince Congressional forces to help him impose a crackdown on the medical marijuana industry.
In a recent letter to Congress, Sessions tries to sell lawmakers on the idea of abandoning its support of the part of a federal spending bill that prohibits the Justice Department from shelling out tax dollars to go after the medical marijuana community.
“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. “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.”
Sessions wants Congress to turn its back on a temporary rider known as the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment. This provision, which has been in place for the past few years, is the only thing stopping federal agencies from using some twisted translation of the law to investigate, raid and prosecute medical marijuana participants.
Although the rider was renewed in April, President Donald Trump said in a signing statement that he “will treat this provision consistently with [his] constitutional responsibility to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” It was a message suggesting that he was ready to pull the plug on medical marijuana if ever deemed necessary.
This potentially means that the kill switch could be on the horizon.
Ever since Attorney General Sessions took control of the Justice Department, legal marijuana has been at risk of being shut down. In fact, the DOJ’s leading law enforcement hammer recently appointed a violent crime task force to review the federal government’s stance on marijuana policy – a situation that some believe could lead to the reversal of an Obama-era memo allowing states to experiment with legal weed.
As it stands, all that is stopping Sessions from imposing a total ban on marijuana is the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment. There are no other riders in place to protect states that have legalized the leaf for recreational purposes. So, if Sessions can somehow get Congress to see the detriment in statewide legalization, even just for medicinal purposes, the Department of Justice would have absolutely no trouble stepping in to bring down the entire scope of the cannabis industry.
A couple of months ago, Sessions told law enforcement that legal marijuana was causing increased cartel activity in the United States. His letter to Congress reiterates this sentiment.
“Drug traffickers already cultivate and distribute marijuana inside the United States under the guise of state medical marijuana laws,” he wrote. “The individuals in these organizations often find a place for themselves within state regulatory systems.”
In addition, Sessions also wants Congress to know that marijuana comes with “significant health effects,” including “psychosis, lung infections, IQ loss, and addiction.”
“For these reasons, I respectfully request that you oppose the inclusion of such language in Department appropriations,” Sessions concluded.
The protections provided by the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment are only active until September. At that point, Congress will have to decide whether to renew the rider, which they have done for the past three years, or take Sessions’ side and bring the nation back to prohibitionary times.