Med­i­cal mar­i­juana put at risk by Ses­sions’ ac­tion

The Standard Journal - - NATIONAL - As­so­ci­ated Press With U.S. At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions’ order to fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors to pur­sue vi­o­la­tors of fed­eral mar­i­juana laws, states where pot is now le­gal by their own laws are at risk of a crack­down.

SALEM, Ore. — When U. S. At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions green-lighted fed­eral pros­e­cu­tions of mar­i­juana law­break­ers, the vast ma­jor­ity of U. S. states that al­low some form of med­i­cal mar­i­juana were un­ex­pect­edly placed at risk of a crack­down and are war­ily watch­ing de­vel­op­ments.

Forty- six states — in­clud­ing Ses­sions’ home state of Alabama — have le­gal­ized some form of med­i­cal mar­i­juana in re­cent years, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Con­fer­ence of State Leg­is­la­tures. Eight of those states also al­low recre­ational mar­i­juana.

Among the guid­ance that Ses­sions re­scinded was the so-called Og­den Mem­o­ran­dum of 2009 that in­structed fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors not to pur­sue cases against med­i­cal mar­i­juana pa­tients and dis­trib­u­tors who com­plied with state laws.

“Pre­vi­ous na­tion­wide guid­ance spe­cific t o mar­i­juana en­force­ment is un­nec­es­sary and is re­scinded, ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ately,” Ses­sions told the U.S. at­tor­neys based in all 50 states in a gen­eral let­ter.

Ge­or­gia state Rep. Allen Peake, a Repub­li­can who spon­sored a bill in his state’s leg­is­la­ture that le­gal­ized pos­ses­sion of med­i­cal mar­i­juana in 2015, de­nounced the move.

“I’m very dis­ap­pointed in Jeff Ses­sions’ ac­tions,” Peake said in a tele­phone in­ter­view. “He will be hurt­ing the grand­fa­ther with Alzheimer’s, the soc­cer mom with breast cancer, the col­lege stu­dent with Crohn’s dis­ease, the young child with seizures — th­ese are the peo­ple that will be im­pacted by this ac­tion by the at­tor­ney gen­eral.”

The only le­gal pro­tec­tion now for med­i­cal mar­i­juana grow­ers, pro­ces­sors, sell­ers and users is a tem­po­rary mea­sure spon­sored by Repub­li­can Cal­i­for­nia Rep. Dana Rohrabacher and Demo­cratic Ore­gon Rep. Earl Blu­me­nauer pro­hibit­ing the U.S. De­part­ment of Jus­tice from us­ing govern­ment funds to tar­get them.

Rohrabacher, in a con­fer­ence call with re­porters and four other mem­bers of Con­gress, said Ses­sions’ move should gal­va­nize na­tional sup­port for mar­i­juana le­gal­iza­tion.

“This i s a wake- up call for Amer­i­can peo­ple who be­lieve in free­dom,” Rohrabacher said. “It will mo­bi­lize peo­ple through­out the coun­try.”

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