Attorney General Jeff Sessions may have unintentionally hurt his position in the Justice Department when he decided to overturn the Cole memo, an Obama-era policy that allowed states to organize their own marijuana laws. The threat of this action has loomed over the cannabis industry since Sessions’ confirmation last January. Now the industry that made 7.9 billion dollars during 2017 is in disarray and lawmakers are working more vigilantly than ever to put an end to prohibition. Neither Democrats nor Republicans are in favor of Sessions position when it comes to marijuana. In fact, Politico could not find one member of Congress who supported Sessions’ decision.
Blocks from Lawmakers
Republican Senator for Colorado, Cory Gardner, who also happens to be the chair of the NRSC, said, “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. The people of Colorado deserve answers. The people of Colorado deserve to be respected.” Other lawmakers have vowed to squeeze the Department of Justice’s budget to ensure that it could not be spent on persecuting the marijuana industry.
The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act
A measure called H.R. 1227, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, sponsored by Representative Thomas Garrett, a Republican from Virginia, may prove to get more momentum now. The bill now has 15 cosponsors who are all working to remove marijuana from the Schedule 1 drug classification and nullify any federal penalties towards anyone engaged in marijuana activity that is legal in their state. Should Congress pass this law, Sessions actions against the will of the American people who have voted for a legal and regulated market would be moot.
The Archaic Views Promoted by Sessions
Sessions has been a long time prohibitionist with outdated and outmoded views of marijuana. In the past, he has made statements such as “good people don’t use marijuana” and equated the plant with being “only slightly less awful” than heroin. For the 29 states that have legalized medical marijuana for the treatment of child epilepsy, brain injuries, chronic pain, Alzheimer’s, cancer, AIDS, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder and countless other conditions, these statements have been a blow. In fact, The American Legion, the largest war veterans association, and parents of children with epilepsy have been the loudest voices in favor of legalizing marijuana.
The People Want Legal Cannabis
As to the comments likening marijuana to heroin, the facts speak differently. The country is now undergoing an epidemic of opioid use, both prescribed and illegal. Tens of thousands of people are dying every year from legally prescribed opioids for pain management. While no one has ever died from marijuana use, this is not the only difference. Statistics show that in states where medical marijuana is legal, hospital visits caused by opioids are down approximately 23 percent with a 33 percent drop in opioid related deaths. It would appear that legal medical marijuana could be the closest thing to a solution for the opioid epidemic that the United States has found.
At any rate, polls indicate that 60 percent of Americans support the full legalization of cannabis and 83 percent support the legalization of medical marijuana. A wise public servant would consider the will of the people, lest they lose the right to speak for them.