Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence On AG Sessions’ New Marijuana Policy

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In response to a letter written by Matthew Abel, the Executive Director of the Michigan Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence offered harsh criticisms of United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Abel is an attorney from Detroit, a founding partner in the firm of Cannabis Counsel LLC. He asked the Congresswoman to sponsor or co-sponsor legislation pending in the US Congress which would support states rights and protect patients enrolled in Michigan’s current MMMA program. Her response centered around the recent decision by A.G Jeff Sessions to rescind the Cole Memo, an Obama-era policy that outlined parameters under which states would be free from federal interference in their medical and adult-use cannabis programs.

AG Sessions demanded “A return to the rule of law,” and an end of the Cole Memo protections, in a much-televised and much-criticized public declaration on January 4th. Congresswoman Lawrence of the Michigan 14th District described this as a “bad policy” which “goes against the belief that the federal government should not infringe upon states’ rights.”

In specifically addressing the concerns of Michigan residents the Congresswoman called the Sessions decision “a direct threat to the Michigan medical marijuana system.” This news falls at an inconvenient time, as the state is rolling out their Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act program and have begun the approval process for businesses in the testing, cultivation, transport, processing and retail sales of marijuana industries.

Echoing the sentiment expressed by other members of Congress, the state legislature and cannabis activists, Congresswoman Lawrence said the Sessions decision “fails to take into consideration the will of Michigan voters and their right to decide on this issue without federal interference.”

The will of the voters has been clearly established in polling data, the Congresswoman expressed. Her letter cites an unnamed poll which determined that 71% of Americans do not think the federal government should try to prohibit the sale and use of marijuana, and a whopping 88% of Americans favor medical marijuana use.

The letter referenced two bills currently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, H.R. 1841. The congresswoman describes the legislation as “a bill that removes marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act. This piece of legislation would transition marijuana oversight from the jurisdiction of the Drug Enforcement Agency to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and would treat marijuana similar to alcohol under federal statute.”

Secondly Congresswoman Lawrence referenced the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2017. “If enacted, this bill would allow residents and businesses to participate within the confines of a state’s medicinal or recreational marijuana program without running afoul of federal law,” the letter explained.

Although the letter from Michigan NORML’s Abel sought a commitment from the Congresswoman to co-sponsor the bills he referenced, the only promise made in the letter was to “continue monitoring marijuana policy developments on both the federal and state level.”

Abel said that, “Members of Congress need to be proactive in changing marijuana laws.  The laws won’t change themselves.”

Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence was awarded a “B” grade by the D.C. headquarters of NORML. In a Report Card issued on every congressperson in America, NORML graded the electeds on their voting history for pro-cannabis bills.

Source: The Social Revolution

Rick Thompson
About Rick Thompson 83 Articles
Current member of the Boards of Directors of: Michigan Comprehensive Cannabis Law Reform Committee (MILegalize), Michigan NORML; founding member, Michigan ASA, Public Relations Director, Michigan Association of Compassion Centers (defunct)