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On Monday, a letter from Attorney General Jeff Sessions that highlights his opposition to medical cannabis became public. While the Administration had previously given somewhat vague statements about their intentions relating to medical cannabis, this letter provides clear cut opposition to appropriations riders that prevent the Department of Justice from expending funds against medical cannabis activities. The letter requested that leaders of congress not restrict the Department of Justice’s funding in the prosecution of state medical cannabis laws.
It is worth noting that the date of this letter is May 1, 2017, but the most recent omnibus budget that President Trump signed into law was signed on May 5, 2017. It appears as though this letter was to highlight DOJ’s opposition to the proposed budget. It, at least for the time being, seems that DOJ’s objection to the appropriations rider was ignored by Congress, however it likely influenced President Trump as indicated by the signing statement issued with the budget. However, it is almost a certainty that the DOJ and Attorney General Jeff Sessions will continue to fight legislation regarding safe access to medical cannabis.
In his letter Sessions repeats debunked myths about cannabis. He falsely claims that drug traffickers use the cover of medical cannabis businesses to engage in criminal activity and that smoking marijuana has negative health effects such as psychosis and respiratory ailments. Further, Sessions claims that it would be “unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the [Justice] Department to fund particular prosecutions, particularly in the midst of a historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime.”
Mr. Sessions is right about one thing. There is a drug epidemic. Except that epidemic has not resulted from cannabis, but rather from opioids. In the FY18 Budget Hearing for the Department of Justice, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein indicated that the death total from drug overdose for 2016 could be as high as 60,000 people with 60% of those deaths coming from prescription opioids. Tell the Trump Administration that the real epidemic is opiate abuse and that cannabis can help treat chronic pain and save lives.
The full text of the letter is available through our friends at MassRoots who originally broke this story.