Democrats push bills to blunt a crackdown on legal state pot
Senate Democrats on Thursday urged Congress to pass legislation that bars federal authorities from interfering with medical marijuana programs, saying the Trump administration appears to be readying a crackdown on life-changing cannabis care.
Bipartisan bills in the House and Senate would allow patients to access medical marijuana in states that allow it without fear of prosecution, as the drug remains illegal under federal law.
“The fact is our marijuana laws in America are broken,” said Sen. Cory A. Booker, New Jersey Democrat. “They are savagely broken, and the jagged pieces are hurting American people.”
Congress in recent years has tried to bar the Justice Department from using federal funds to prosecute medical marijuana users and providers in the states. Yet U.S. attorneys have interpreted the prohibition in various ways, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions last month asked Congress for a stronger hand in prosecuting providers.
“I believe it would be unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the Department to fund particular prosecutions, particularly in the midst of an historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime,” Mr. Sessions wrote in a May 1 letter to House and Senate leaders. “The Department must be in a position to use all laws available to combat the transnational drug organizations and dangerous drug traffickers.”