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Chronicle AM: Sessions Provides No Clarity on MJ Policy, MO Legalizers Trying Again, More... (1/10/17)

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #957)

Sen. Jeff Sessions is on the hotseat today and Wednesday during his Senate confirmation hearings, Missouri activists gear up for a 2018 legalization initiative, and more.

Sen. Jeff Sessions left the marijuana situation still muddied Tuesday. (
Marijuana Policy

Sessions Evades Firm Answer on State Marijuana Laws, Leaves Door Open for Federal Enforcement. During his confirmation hearing for the position of Attorney General Tuesday, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) avoided giving a straight answer on how he will handle states that have legalized marijuana. When asked by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) if he would use Justice Department resources to prosecute medical marijuana patients in states where it is legal, Sessions replied, "I won't commit to never enforcing federal law… but absolutely it is a problem of resources for our federal government. And when asked by Leahy if he agreed with Obama Justice Department guidelines that have largely allowed marijuana legalization to proceed at the state level, Sessions responded with evasion. When asked by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) about states' right to experiment with marijuana legalization, Sessions responded that marijuana was illegal at the federal level: "One obvious concern is the United States Congress has made the possession in every state and distribution an illegal act. If that's' something that's not desired any longer Congress should pass a law to change the rule, it is not the Attorney General's job to decide what laws to enforce."

Missouri Legalization Initiative Approved for Signature Gathering. Missouri came just a couple of dozen of signatures away from being able to vote on marijuana legalization in 2016, and activists there are already gearing up for 2018. A legalization initiative has been approved for signature gathering. It would make marijuana legal for people 21 and over, and medical marijuana would be legal for minors with a doctor's permission.

Medical Marijuana

Connecticut Medical Marijuana Expansion Hearing Wednesday. A panel of eight physician specialists will hear public testimony on expanding medical conditions covered by the state's medical marijuana law Wednesday. Patients are expected to ask the panel to expand the law to include conditions such as eczema, arthritis, and fibromyalgia. The panel will make a recommendation to the Consumer Protection Commissioner, who can then propose the change to a legislative oversight committee, which would make a final decision. The whole process could take a year or more.

South Carolina Medical Marijuana Bill Filed. State Sen. Tom Davis (R-Beaufort) and state Rep. Peter McCoy (R-Charleston) Tuesday filed identical versions of the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act (Senate Bill 212) at the statehouse. The bill would allow qualifying patients with debilitating medical conditions and a recommendation from their doctor to use medical cannabis.

Key Minnesota GOP Legislator Wants to Block Any New Qualifying Conditions. Longtime medical marijuana skeptic and former House Majority Leader Rep. Matt Dan (R-Dellwood) has filed a measure, House File 120, that would block the state health commissioner from adding new qualifying conditions to the state's medical marijuana law. It's a power that has been used sparingly -- "intractable pain" was added after a year's wait -- but Dean wants it used not at all. His bill would accomplish that by striking out the phrase "or any other medical condition or its treatment approved by the commissioner."

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


I say this mainly to point out Obama's flippant attitude towards rescheduling cannabis. "Leave it to Congress, not enough resources, blah blah"

If Obama feared that supporting Federal cannabis law reform would cost his party if Democrats did well the past six years by being cowards on the subject....

Tue, 01/10/2017 - 11:17pm Permalink
Mark Mitcham (not verified)

In reply to by Rocky Coast (not verified)

I'm sure you've noticed the amazing progress the marijuana legalization movement has made under President Obama's two terms.  This was due to the historically significant tolerance he has shown toward the movement.  I doubt we'll get the same tolerance from a Trump administration.  Fasten your seatbelt!

However, whether one is willing to give Obama credit or not, Obama's presidential behavior toward cannabis legalization is now essentially a moot point, for those of us concerned about protecting our hard-won gains.

We could have done a lot worse (McCain, Romney) than Obama... and I think we just did do much worse, with Trump!  The question now is, how to protect the legal states, indeed the entire country,  from Trump and Sessions?

Wed, 01/11/2017 - 8:08am Permalink
William Aiken (not verified)

It says a lot about the Senators sitting on this confirmation hearing failed to even bring up the issue of asset forfeiture. Sessions has a history of being a zealot in his support of AF and has been equally fervent in opposing any legislation to reform this unconstitutional practice.

It would have been so easy for just one of these Senators to expose this unjust and unfair policy, forcing Sessions to defend the indefensible. Instead, questioning focused was on 30 year old claims of racism. These hearings for Sessions were a missed opportunity to put a spotlight to educate the public on the AF travesty.  

Wed, 01/11/2017 - 7:30pm Permalink
Mark Mitcham (not verified)

In reply to by William Aiken (not verified)

I am amazed that anyone other than the sickest of minds would even consider voting to confirm a Sessions nomination.

Let's take down the names of the politicians that are enabling this racist cracker to become America's "top cop."  Let's make sure they lose their jobs as a result.  Anyone who voted to confirm Sessions should be on THE SHITLIST!

Thu, 01/12/2017 - 1:53pm Permalink
Mary Ettinger (not verified)

This is so pathetic and pitiful that the best appointee PE Trump could come up with is a former reject and obviously prejudice attorney/judge.  So we the citizens now rely on the representatives and our senators to make an intelligent decision.  I have written and called my politicians, who happen to be of the Republican party, but have a vague, uneasy feeling that they are too scared to defy PE Trump and Mitch.  They glad hand me with form letters assuring me that they are making the best decision for the people of the US.  This is the most frightening time I have experienced so far in my 69 years.  We do have some scary laws and sentencing mandates on the books and maybe we (the people) need to investigate the real reason why.  I suspect the prison industrial complex is happy to have Sessions. 

Fri, 01/13/2017 - 6:14pm Permalink
borden (not verified)

In reply to by Mary Ettinger (not verified)

Trump picked Sessions because Sessions supported him in the Republican primary. At least that seems likely. One of the frightening things going on is that it was mostly fairly low quality or problematic people who supported Trump, at least initially, and so they're the ones who are getting rewarded.

Sat, 01/14/2017 - 6:36pm Permalink

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