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AG Sessions, DOJ Reviewing Marijuana Policies

AG Sessions, DOJ Reviewing Marijuana Policies

Experts have told Sessions about a supposed rise in violence with legalized marijuana.

Former President Barack Obama made no effort to stop states that voted to legalize recreational marijuana, but never took to steps legalize the drug at the federal level.

Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions suggested he will undo everything Obama did:

“We have a responsibility to use our best judgment … and my view is we don’t need to be legalizing marijuana,” he said at the winter meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General.

“I’m dubious about marijuana. I’m not sure we’re going to be a better, healthier nation if we have marijuana sold at every corner grocery store.”

Sessions also talked about an article in The Washington Post that argued that doctors could use marijuana to help those who abuse opiates. Sessions dismissed this claim, saying it’s a “‘desperate attempt’ to defend marijuana and its benefits” and that “[M]aybe science will prove me wrong.”

Something tells me Sessions did not read the article because science and facts suggest otherwise:

A 2016 study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that states with medical marijuana laws had 25 percent fewer opioid overdose deaths than states that do not have medical marijuana laws. And another study published in Health Affairs last year found that prescriptions for opioid painkillers such as OxyContin, Vicodin and Percocet paid for by Medicare dropped substantially in states that adopted medical marijuana laws.

This is just the latest rhetoric from Sessions. Recently he stated that the department will review Obama’s policies:

“Most states have some limits on it and, already, people are violating those limits,” the attorney general said. “We’re going to look at it. … and try to adopt responsible policies.”

Sessions continued:

“I’m definitely not a fan of expanded use of marijuana,” he said. “States they can pass the laws they choose. I would just say it does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not.”

Obama and his Justice Department announced in 2013 that officials “would not directly challenge state marijuana legalization laws and would take a narrower role enforcing federal law against pot sales.” The officials passed around a memo with guidelines:

A series of guidelines, widely referred to as the Cole memo after Deputy Attorney General James Cole, said federal enforcement and prosecution efforts would focus on preventing drug-related violence, as well as stopping distribution to minors, weeding out gang involvement and blocking marijuana from being transported to states where it remains illegal.

Now Sessions has decided to review these guidelines. He justifies a possible tougher stance because of alleged violence that comes with marijuana :

“Most of you probably know I don’t think America is going to be a better place when more people of all ages and particularly young people start smoking pot,” Sessions said during an exchange with reporters at the Justice Department. “I believe it’s an unhealthy practice and current levels of THC in marijuana are very high compared to what they were a few years ago.”

“We’re seeing real violence around that,” Sessions said. “Experts are telling me there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think and there’s big money involved.”

But it’s not just about this alleged violence. Sessions also spoke about Nebraska’s lawsuit against Colorado. The attorney general “sued Colorado for allegedly not keeping marijuana within its borders.” The Supreme Court dismissed the case, but it has not stopped other states from complaining “that Colorado and other pot-legal states have not done enough to keep the drug from crossing their borders.”

Eight states and Washington D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana. The Associated Press reported that studies about violence and marijuana have not shown any connection.


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Just wondering if we went back to pre-1911 days if the overall crime rate related to drugs and the financial empowerment of criminal elements that came with this prohibition are factored into the equation. Yes, drugs are “different” than alcohol per se… but just wondering.

Diverso, ma uguale?! | February 28, 2017 at 3:09 pm

“While more research is needed, these findings suggest that it is possible that the wider availability of medical marijuana for people in pain might help to reduce the growing number of overdose deaths attributed to prescription pain pills.”

The study’s conclusion so far is only “possible” and that it needs more research. Maybe Sessions did read the article after all and is more prudent in his judgment with regard to the facts than you were in criticizing him?

states rights issue.
dump the fed drug laws.

    Dejectedhead in reply to dmacleo. | February 28, 2017 at 8:58 pm

    Yeah, where did the Feds get the authority to ban drugs? They needed to Amend the Constitution to ban alcohol, but then a few short decades later they just suddenly gained the ability that didn’t previously exist.

Prohibition breeds violence and a general disrespect for the law.

Jeff is some good things.

He’s also some bad things, among them an anti-federalism guy and someone who doesn’t much respect your property (he’s a big advocate of asset forfeiture law).

“Experts are telling me there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think and there’s big money involved.”

I had hoped we’d about heard the last of “experts are telling me” straw-men with Barracula leaving the WH. If you have some experts, better name them, Jeff.

ugottabekiddinme | February 28, 2017 at 3:31 pm

Why not just delete the classification of marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance under federal law, and let the states sort it out?

If a state such as Washington wants to allows adults over 21 to buy pot for recreational use, and localities can opt out or regulate its outlets, let it. If another state wants to allow medical use only by Rx, let it. If another wants to outlaw it entirely, so be it.

Leave the states to do this work in accordance with the expressed desires of their citizens. Focus federal government’s law enforcement vision on federal crimes, from interstate trafficking of hard drugs, to illegal aliens with criminal records.

    OnTheLeftCoast in reply to ugottabekiddinme. | February 28, 2017 at 4:38 pm

    The real news from the review of Medicare prescribing patterns is the 5k/year fewer doses on average per physician of drugs prescribed in five categories of conditions. That’s a lot of missed sales for the pharmaceutical industry.

    Class 1 status protects the development of patentable cannabinoid drugs. If the current medical marijuana industry were to gain more patient market share before that happens, that’s a LOT of missed potential sales. When the patents are in place, Class 1 will go away – and there will be heavy lobbying to end the ability of physicians to authorize cannabis cards or otherwise prescribe or “prescribe” cannabis preparations not licensed by the FDA.

    Medical marijuana – in addition to its own merits – has also served as a stalking horse for the wider legalization movement. It sounds as though with Sessions in charge, the Feds will be ramping up their opposition to the States on that one, too.

I very much wish they would leave this alone, NOT because I care about marijuana legalization, but because I believe in Federalism, and believe strongly that this is an area that should be left to the States.

It may end up being an area where I will have a strong disagreement with this administration. Well, I’m not a one issue voter.

    Tom Servo in reply to Tom Servo. | February 28, 2017 at 3:37 pm

    “We’re seeing real violence around that,” Sessions said. “Experts are telling me there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think and there’s big money involved.”

    And I meant to add that this was a remarkably dumb comment by Sessions. The violence comes when you force this kind of widely popular item (among certain segments of the population) into the black market, where it is controlled by criminal elements that compete violently with each other. Just go watch some of the great gangster movies of the 30’s if you wanna see more violence around (the embargoed item) than one would think.

Hey mon, dis be not an idea good. Most of my business es keepin’ the Pooolice outta my business. We be movin’ bales of rightous “hay” and I have a lot of time and money in my network.

Don’ be screwin’ wid my business, K?

Screwed no matter what , but I think the money spent on prohibition would best be spent on rehab . As long as the idiots can function leave them alone , once they cross that line and are engaged in anti social or criminal behavior ,bring down the Hammer of Thor

    Merlin01 in reply to dmi60ex. | February 28, 2017 at 10:58 pm

    I agree with almost all of your comment except the part about anti social behavior. Just remember a few short days(38) ago we were that anti social behavior problem as defined by the Grubernment in charge!

    When drug users hurt someone besides themselves, that’s when we should step in!

If Congress wants to eliminate some silly, redundant or ineffective Federal laws, then Congress should do so. The proper job of the AG is not the determination of which Federal laws he thinks he should enforce. That’s Obama-style hogwash, and we’ve had enough of it already.

    dmi60ex in reply to tom swift. | February 28, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    It always amazes me that pot discussions really bring out the anger .

    Char Char Binks in reply to tom swift. | March 1, 2017 at 10:34 am

    I agree. There’s a lot of disagreement with Sessions on this thread about marijuana, including from yours truly, but the AG’s job is NOT to legislate, or pick and choose which crimes to prosecute.

Trump has no dog in this fight, and no possible upside. Walk away.

Federalism. Leave it to the states. That’s how we find out how/if stuff works without placing the entire country at risk.

Then we are agreed. The traffic in drugs will be permitted, but controlled, and Don Corleone will give up protection in the East – and there will be the peace.

Those for legalizing always say it’s just for medical use and then somehow it ends up following with recreational use too.

Here in CA, we made it legal first just for medical use. This didn’t bother me much. But of course now we made it legal for recreational use too.

If this didn’t always seem to be the way, maybe I’d buy the argument for medical use.

Look for words like could, possibly, maybe, might…. they say nothing about what is going to happen. Wouldn’t any AG review all of the Obama era policies? Of course they would.

I live in a state (Washington) where pot is legal. That’s forced the Mexican cartels out of the business. Trump and Sessions need to listen to their libertarian backers and stay out of this. The Feds don’t need to be our nanny and tell us whether or not we should be using booze, pot, or tobacco. Let the Democrats be the Nanny Party, but the Republicans should be the party of freedom.
Remember the (now forgotten) clause of the Constitution that says that the powers of the Feds are strictly limited to those enumerated in the Constitution, and all other powers are left to the States. For some reason that’s gotten turned around, and now the Federal laws take precedence over state laws. Pot is one of those things that are (supposedly) left to the States to decide. Let it stay that way, and make it official.

This is a no win, Trump should leave it to the States!

There is no true medical use of marijuana in this country. The term “medical, or medicinal, marijuana” is applied to the use of the UNPROCESSED plant to treat medical conditions and symptoms. The key here is the word unprocessed. When medicinal plants are used by a responsible medical practitioner to treat conditions and symptoms, the amount of the active ingredient found in the plant, which is used, is closely regulated. So to is the purity of that extract. And, there is usually significant data compiled, through scientific tests, to determine what dosages are effective and safe as well as what undesired side effects are produced. Virtually none of this has been done with marijuana. So, the main use of marijuana is recreational.

The biggest argument for the use of recreational marijuana is that it is no worse than the recreational use of alcohol. While this may be accurate, this is not a big selling point for recreational use of marijuana. The costs of recreational use of alcohol are quite high. The CDC reported that excessive alcohol use cost the citizens of the US ~$225 Billion, in 2006. This included losses in workplace productivity (72% of the total cost), health care expenses for problems caused by excessive drinking (11% of total), law enforcement and other criminal justice expenses related to excessive alcohol consumption (9% of total), and motor vehicle crash costs from impaired driving (6% of the total). So, it is logical to assume that this figure would be increased if recreational marijuana use was legalized nationwide.

The only reason for the legalization of marijuana is because people want to use it. Of course that argument also applies to heroin, cocaine, Oxycontin, methamphetamine, barbiturates and every other mind or mood altering drug on the planet. So, if we demand that a drug be legalized, simply because a portion of the public wishes it to be, then all drugs would be legalized. But, one of the functions of society is the regulation of items and practices. Such regulation is usually done on the basis of the advantages of the use of the item or practice as opposed to the disadvantages of the use of the same.

Alcohol is a special case. It is used extremely widely in human society. And, its use has been a staple of greater human society for over 4000 years. For this reason, outlawing the use of alcohol simply will not work. This does not mean that the possession and use of alcohol is not heavily regulated. It is. Other drugs, such as marijuana, are not a traditional part of human society. And, as noted, marijuana has no established, verifiable medicinal uses. So, there no sociological need to legalize such drugs, for recreational purposes.

The true reason for legalizing marijuana is the money. By pushing marijuana as a legal recreational drug, the legal business community can profitably take advantage of a market and governments can generate tax revenue by taxing the distribution of what is now contraband. Again, it is all about the Benjamins.

Full legalization in Massachusetts means that the entire East Coast now has access to locally grown, locally taxed, completely legal weed. It’s far too late to ‘step up enforcement’ – the cat is out of the bag. Massachusetts was the tipping point.

The federal government might as well just reschedule it and call it a day.

many differing points of view here, but one ‘angle’ I haven’t seen addressed- ADDICTION. As an alcoholic, with 14 short months of sobriety, addiction is addiction. Yes I suppose some addictions can be more harmful than others…. but the medical studies cited only seem to show that in states where weed may be legal, you end up with a few less people addicted to opiates, and instead are addicted to marijuana…not exactly a victory for overcoming addiction…and THAT is what this is really all about!