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Did A.G. Sessions ask for permission to go after medical marijuana providers?

In a post last week, our blog discussed how U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions continues to adopt increasingly hard-line approaches to crime, suggesting that his tenure as the nation's top cop will be nothing short of controversial.

Interestingly enough, while Sessions has wasted little time articulating his vision for combating violent crime, he has heretofore said very little about the course the Department of Justice will take concerning drug crime. In particular, he has said little about marijuana, a drug he has long taken a dim view of and the medicinal value of which he has questioned.

In a perhaps not altogether unsurprising turn of events, media outlets recently uncovered, confirmed and published a letter from Sessions to congressional leaders written in May asking in no uncertain terms for the authority to begin prosecuting providers of medical marijuana.

What did the letter say?

In the letter to congressional leaders, Sessions asked for the rescission of federal protections for medical marijuana in place since 2014, arguing that they "inhibit [the DOJ's] authority to enforce the Controlled Substances Act" and are especially unwise given that the nation is in "the midst of an historic drug epidemic."

What are the federal protections he's referencing?

Sessions' letter refers to the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which expressly forbids federal funds from being allocated to the DOJ for the sole purpose of preventing states "from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana."

It has long enjoyed bipartisan support on Capitol Hill.

Are we really in the midst of a "historic drug epidemic?"

According to experts, we are indeed in a midst of a historic drug epidemic, but the source of the epidemic is not marijuana, but rather opiate drugs. Indeed, many have pointed out how the National Institute on Drug Abuse has acknowledged research indicating that those states that have legalized medical marijuana have actually seen decreases in overdoses and fatalities relating to opiates.

What's the public's view on medical marijuana?

A Quinnipiac University poll released in April determined that almost 75 percent of respondents in states that have legalized marijuana for recreational and/or medicinal purposes disapprove of the enforcement of federal marijuana laws, while 94 percent of respondents expressed support for the idea of medical marijuana.

It will be fascinating to see what transpires …

If you are under investigation or have been charged with some manner of federal drug crime, it's imperative to consider speaking with a skilled legal professional as soon as possible.

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Mark J. O'Brien's cases have been featured in:
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