In a controversial letter, US Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions has asked Congressional leaders to not renew the current federal law that prevents the Department of Justice from allocating money that would interfere with state approved medical marijuana laws. The letter was obtained by Tom Angell, writer for of Mass Roots and founder of the Marijuana Moment, a daily newsletter relating to all thing marijuana. In an article on Mass Roots, Angell reports:
“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 in a letter to Republican and Democratic House and Senate leadership. “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.”
The letter, sent to Capitol Hill last month, was shared with MassRoots by a Congressional staffer.
The protections are the result of a rider — known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, after its lead Congressional sponsors — which has been enacted into law with strong bipartisan votes for the past three fiscal years, including the current one.
Trump’s budget request to Congress did not originally include the amendment, indicating the current administration has little support for the provision. A new budget is still in the works as the country continues to operate under a Continuing Resolution (CR) passed in May to keep the government funded. Under the CR, the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment is still in effect.
In April, Sessions formed a task force to address existing policies surrounding charging and sentencing of marijuana crimes “to ensure consistency with the Department’s overall strategy on reducing violent crime and with the Administration’s goals and priorities.”
In May, Sessions issued another memo that called for strict enforcement of the mandatory minimum sentencing the Obama administration steered away from due to the inequitable impact of the 1990’s sentencing guidelines.
“We are returning to the enforcement of the laws as passed by Congress, plain and simple,” Sessions said in his 2 page memo. “If you are a drug trafficker, we will not look the other way, we will not be willfully blind to your misconduct.”
As Congress considers the new budget proposal, Sessions’ request conflicts with what a majority of legislators supported under Obama, including the majority of Republicans.
In the current memo discovered by Angell, Sessions said, “I respectfully request that you oppose the inclusion of such language in Department appropriations.”