AG shifts strategy to target medicinal marijuana
By Roger Stone
The New York Times of Sunday, July 16 brought chilling new evidence that Trump attorney general Jeff Sessions, in direct contradiction of the position stated by Donald J Trump when he was a candidate, plans a federal crackdown on marijuana in the 29 states that have legalized some form of its use. At a campaign rally in Sparks, Nevada on Oct. 29, 2015, Trump said: “The marijuana thing is such a big thing. I think medical should happen — right? Don’t we agree? I think so. And then I really believe we should leave it up to the states. It should be a state situation … but I believe that the legalization of marijuana – other than for medical because I think medical, you know I know people that are very, very sick and for whatever reason, the marijuana really helps them – … but in terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state.”
According to the Times, attorney general Sessions plans a 1960s style relaunch of the discredited “War on Drugs” which has proved to be an ignominious and expensive failure which has neither stemmed or slowed drug trafficking and abuse nor has rehabilitated victims while leading to mass incarceration of an entire generation of minority Americans for the nonviolent offense of possession of small amounts of drugs.
Business man Donald Trump’s skepticism about the war on drugs goes back many years with the real estate titan telling Playboy in an interview that the war on drugs program has been a failure in view of its massive financial cause for interdiction, prosecution and long term incarceration. Trump said at the time that “legalization is the obvious answer”.
Even though candidate Donald Trump pledged during the campaign to support state’s rights when it comes to the question of state legalization of marijuana, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security John Kelly egged on by New Jersey Governor Chris Christi has been not so quietly promoting a coming crackdown on state legalized cannabis.
The Session’s strategy is even shiftier and more nefarious than originally reported. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer first floated the idea of a Trump administration crackdown on marijuana in a White House press briefing but Spicer said that the administration’s concern was not with medical marijuana but with the nine states that have now approved the legal use of marijuana for recreational purposes. Spicer seemed oblivious to the point that the arduous process of state legalization is for recreation marijuana is identical to the process of legalization for medicinal marijuana and both require the overwhelming support of the voters or the legislatures in the states that have taken this step.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions real plan was exposed when he asked the U.S. Congress to rescind a rider that the House attached to an Appropriations Bill that would have prohibited the Justice Department under Sessions from conducting a crackdown on medicinal marijuana.
The position of the Attorney General not only ignores the will of the people in the 29 states that have legalized some form of cannabis but it ignores the billions in revenue to states and counties who are balancing their books and paying for vital public services from taxes collected on legalized cannabis. It also ignores the hundreds of thousands of jobs in what is today a multi-billion-dollar industry. A crackdown on marijuana is most certainly not going to make America great again economically. More importantly, Mr. Sessions’ plan directly contradicts the expressed position of the President while a candidate. Donald Trump is popular with the American people because he says what he means and he means what he says.
Even more appalling is the fact that drug warriors like Sessions, Kelly and Christi refuse to acknowledge that the war on drugs has failed. The so called war on drugs has clogged our courts and prisons, cost taxpayers billions and had no effect on the incidents of illegal drug use in the United States.
The effects of legalization, on the other hand, have proven to be most beneficial. Opioid deaths have dropped sharply in the states that have legalized cannabis as have an opioid addiction and opioid related crime. In fact, petty crime from breaking and entering to armed robbery has also dropped dramatically in the states that have legalized cannabis. Just as importantly the 29 states that have legalized cannabis are experiencing an incredible windfall in revenues to states and counties with Colorado and California essentially balancing their state and county budgets with the proceeds from cannabis generated tax collections. Additionally, what is now a multi-billion dollar industry is generation thousands of new jobs in the states where the voters and the elected officials have had the wisdom to legalize cannabis.
President Trump made a solid decision when he stood up for State’s Rights on the question of marijuana legalization. I believe that Trump did marginally better with younger voters than either Romney or McCain based on this stance. It is important to understand that millions of Americans are counting on cannabis as a medication to address a broad action of illnesses and maladies. The idea that we would deny veterans with PTSD cannabis if it eased their suffering is outrageous.
All of this explains why I have joined with a number of prominent Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, and Progressives to form the United States Cannabis Coalition. I am proud to say that John Morgan, Orlando attorney, who single-handedly mounted a dogged multi-election effort to legalize medical marijuana in Florida has joined me in this important effort. John feels very strongly that Republicans and Democrats must put partisan politics aside so that millions will have the option of marijuana therapy for debilitating illnesses.
The narrow purpose of this ad hoc effort is to urge the President to protect State’s Rights in the 29 states that have legalized the sale and availability of cannabis. Specifically, the President should direct the Attorney General to continue to abide by the Obama-era Justice Department policy to withhold enforcement that they would withhold enforcement of the Federal law in the states where State and Federal law have a contradiction on the sale and dispensary of cannabis. This was a good call by Attorney General Eric Holder, saving tax payers millions for Federal enforcement and potentially putting people in jail for selling or using medicinal marijuana. Sessions planned crackdown on marijuana would reverse these orders. The President must instruct him to back off to fulfill his pledge to the millions of Americans who support him based on his promise to protect their access all natural medicine they need.
Candidate Trump met with parents whose children’s epilepsy was effectively treated with a certain strain of marijuana. He knows that millions count on legal access to cannabis as a legitimate and effective form of medicine. Candidate Trump made an important and courageous declaration that he would protect the states’ rights to guarantee access to cannabis for its medical benefits if that is what the voters chose.
We at the United States cannabis coalition also hope to persuade the President to reschedule cannabis removing it as a Class 1 drug where it is grouped with heroin and other more damaging drugs so that physicians across the country could legally prescribe cannabis or its derivatives to their patients who would derive medial benefit. A bold move by President Trump would prove to be extremely popular and would disarm many of his critics – in short, both a public policy and political ten-strike.