Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform

Editor: Douglas A. Berman
Moritz College of Law

Saturday, January 6, 2018

"Did Jeff Sessions Just Increase the Odds Congress Will Make Marijuana Legal?"

The question in the title of this post is the headline of this notable new Politico piece with the headline:  "The attorney general has created intolerable uncertainty for a growing industry that is now demanding legal protections from Congress. And lawmakers are listening."  The piece winds down with this remarkable political reality: "As of late Friday, POLITICO Magazine could not find a single member of Congress who had issued a statement in support of Sessions’ actions."  Here is more from thie article:

Capitol Hill screamed just as loudly. And it wasn’t just the Democratic members of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus.  It was Republican senators, too. Cory Gardner of Colorado took the Senate floor to issue an ultimatum to Sessions: “I will be putting a hold on every single nomination from the Department of Justice until Attorney General Jeff Sessions lives up to the commitment he made to me in my pre-confirmation meeting with him. The conversation we had that was specifically about this issue of states’ rights in Colorado.  Until he lives up to that commitment, I’ll be holding up all nominations of the Department of Justice,” Gardner said.  “The people of Colorado deserve answers. The people of Colorado deserve to be respected.” Gardner is no fringe Republican; he’s the chair of the NRSC....

Sessions’ antipathy for a drug that has lost much of its stigma among a wide cross section of Americans has only galvanized disparate factions in Congress to protect an industry that is expected to generate $2.3 billion in state tax revenue by 2020.

Senator Pat Leahy of Vermont, who just a few weeks ago declined to comment to POLITICO Magazine about whether he would work to maintain protections for medical marijuana in the 2018 omnibus spending package, tweeted on Thursday, “I'm now fighting to include my amdt in the final omnibus Approps bill so we can protect patients and law-abiding businesses.”

The fact that marijuana has now risen to the height of top-tier budget negotiations is a sign that the pro-marijuana coalition is no longer merely a menagerie of loud-mouth hippies, stoners, and felons, as the pro-pot crowd has been characterized in the past. The community of Americans who now rely on legal medical marijuana, estimated to be 2.6 million people in 2016, includes a variety of mainstream constituency groups like veterans, senior citizens, cancer survivors, and parents of epileptic children. The American Legion, a conservative veterans organization by any measure, has voted twice in favor of resolutions to expand research and safe access for its members.

“The American Legion has been a leading advocate for the removal of cannabis from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act to enable greater research into the medical efficacy of the drug to treat ailments that impact veterans such as PTSD and chronic pain,” Joe Plenzler, Director of Media Relations for The American Legion, told POLITICO Magazine — which means Jeff Sessions just crossed the nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization.

By the end of the day on Thursday, in a conference call of five members of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, lawmakers from four of the eight states that have approved recreational marijuana railed about Sessions’ unconstitutional assault on the rights of their states to decide their own affairs. On that call, California Republican Dana Rohrabacher said that the move by Sessions to strike a blow against marijuana has had the inverse effect of raising the attention from what had previously been a states’ issue but has now become a national priority. “It’s a big plus for our efforts that the federal government is now aware that our constituents have been alerted,” Rohrabacher said. "We can be confident we can win this fight, because this is a freedom issue.”

Prior related posts:

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/marijuana_law/2018/01/did-jeff-sessions-just-increase-the-odds-congress-will-make-marijuana-legal.html

Criminal justice developments and reforms, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink

Comments

Post a comment