Cannabis Law Prof Blog

Editor: Franklin G. Snyder
Texas A&M University
School of Law

Monday, October 16, 2017

Former Regan-Era Official Disagrees with Trump and Sessions’ Stance on Marijuana

 FeinEver since being appointed by President Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has clearly stated his opposition to the Rohrabacher Medical Marijuana Amendment (RMMA.) Essentially, the RMMA would protect states that have legalized medicinal marijuana from any federal intrusion. However, former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Fein (whom was appointed during the Ronald Regan Administration) has recently voiced his regarding Trump and Session’s hypocrisy.

Fein accuses both Trump and Sessions of hypocrisy for their opposition to the amendment. He points out that Trump promised to “make medical marijuana widely available to patients, and allow states to decide if they want to fully legalize pot or not," while on the campaign trail in 2016. And he notes that as a senator, Sessions repeatedly opposed the federal government intervening in states' rights on issues such as voting rights and immigration, and as Attorney General has instructed the Department of Justice to institute less oversight of local police departments.

In Former Justice Department Official Under Reagan Says Jeff Sessions Is Wrong on Marijuana, writer Joseph Misulonas goes onto critique portions of Fein’s argument.

While Fein makes excellent points in those regards, his op-ed also delves a bit too much into hyperbole. He says that every dollar spent on investigating medical marijuana is a dollar not being spent on national security, which is true. But then he writes, "Every federal dollar expended investigating or prosecuting medical marijuana businesses is a dollar unavailable to detect and prosecute international or home-grown terrorists.  In other words, to oppose the Medical Marijuana Amendment is to provide material assistance to ISIS and other international terrorist organizations."

Unattenuated terrorism arguments aside, Fein’s criticism of the Trump administration seems a bit counterintuitive. Despite Regan’s infamous “Just say No” program and the everlasting war on drugs, it appears former Regan appointees are beginning to turn the corner on their views regarding medical marijuana. More importantly, Trump and Session’s response to such criticism will likely speak volumes on how the Trump administration will view medical marijuana differently from previous GOP-backed administrations.

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