Congress will likely renew protections next month for state medical marijuana laws — but pro-pot lawmakers and advocates are still watching nervously in case Attorney General Jeff Sessions launches a last-minute sabotage campaign.
For nearly three years now, Congress has maintained a policy prohibiting the Justice Department from using federal funds to prevent states allowing medical marijuana – which now number 29 plus the District of Columbia – from carrying out their own laws.
The amendment, offered by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), will soon expire unless Congress renews it. And it seems likely lawmakers will include the language in a spending bill keeping the government open past Sept. 30, with one possible hiccup – intervention by Sessions, who’s famously known for his abhorrence to cannabis.
Sessions, who prepared a speech in April whose initial text (later revised) called marijuana “only slightly less awful” than heroin, apparently asked congressional leaders to undo the state medical marijuana protections in a letter that became public in June. In that letter, Sessions argued the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment would restrict the DOJ from enforcing the federal Controlled Substances Act.
“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,” Sessions wrote. “The Department must be in a position to use all laws available to combat the transnational drug organizations and dangerous drug traffickers who threaten American lives.”
Yet Sessions is up against a Congress filled with an unprecedented number of pro-pot lawmakers from a record number of states where it’s legal.
Last November’s election brought sweeping victories for the pro-marijuana crowd: Seven states plus the District now allow recreational