Cory Gardner meets with Jeff Sessions to discuss federal enforcement for marijuana

Marijuana Lights Up the Wrong Way

It reminds me of H.L. Mencken's famous definition of Puritanism: "The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy". Five other states have legalized recreational use, while dozens permit medicinal use.

Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed an Obama-era policy that allowed states to legalize marijuana without federal intervention.

Jesse Richardson, a WVU law professor, said the West Virginia medical marijuana industry is at risk, even through state marijuana laws are still protected by the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment.

Legal pot is rapidly losing its earlier stigma - but not with Sessions, a long-standing anti-weed zealot. In just three paragraphs, he wiped away almost a decade of guidance from the Justice Department for how federal prosecutors should approach legal marijuana. Under current law, possession of marijuana is still a federal crime and the federal government can choose to enforce its law however it chooses.

The amendment is now in the short-term spending budget passed by U.S. Congress, but will expire along with the rest of the budget on January 19.

In Sessions' memorandum, he cited statutes that "reflect Congress's determination that marijuana is a unsafe drug and that marijuana activity is a serious crime". Gardner represents the voice of the American public, as well.

Attorney General Sessions, my invitation to meet face-to-face is still open.

Sessions's decision to reverse those guidelines now authorizes the federal government to enforce the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 - a law that Quinnipiac University law professor John Thomas said puts weed in the most restricted drug category.

Citing a 2016 report, he criticized Washington state for failing to merge our medical and retail marijuana systems.

Such actions are usually misunderstandings that can be corrected, he said, but he suggests that the Veterans Health Administration should provide clear guidance to its staff about the new directive so veterans aren't harmed if they admit to using marijuana.

The result has been a half-century of a policy that still has a disproportionately negative impact on nonwhites. According to a 2013 study, whites and blacks use marijuana at roughly the same rates, but blacks are 3.7 times more likely than whites to be arrested for possession of marijuana. Without a court order, the feds won't be able to arrest people complying with state marijuana laws.

"Voters in my state made a decision to be proactive and move forward to recognize that a prohibition isn't going to make marijuana go away - we need to regulate it to make it safer", Moulton said in a statement Wednesday.

For now, the impact can vary according to the jurisdiction of each US attorney.

Cory Gardner, who is calling on the Trump administration to allow states to legalize marijuana without federal interference, is continuing his almost weeklong standoff with Attorney General Jeff Sessions over the issue.

Gardner says Sessions did agree to meet with a larger group of concerned Senators, who are already exploring ways to counter the recent policy change through legislation. Sessions called their hard work and thoughtful approach "unnecessary".

No wonder they're smiling. Now with Sessions's shortsighted announcement, the idea behind my amendment is gaining traction from both Democrats and Republicans.

We'd all be better off if the federal government left this national drug experiment to the laboratory of the states.

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