Saturday, February 17, 2018

Legal Marijuana v Jeff Sessions


This is a list of U.S. senators: Cory Gardner (R-CO),Michael Bennet (D-CO) Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rand Paul (R-KY), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Edward Markey (D-MA). It seems unlikely that anything would put these 18 on the same list. But what did was marijuana. From someone as progressive as Elizabeth Warren to someone as far right as Rand Paul, all of them signed a letter backing the right of the states to regulation marijuana policy. What they want is that congressional leaders of both parties insert new far-reaching protections for state marijuana laws into a must-pass spending bill due next month.
“For the last several years, states have changed their regulatory regimes governing marijuana. What began with relatively isolated experiments has spread across the country as citizens have expressed their will through the democratic process,” the lawmakers, led by Colorado Sens. Cory Gardner (R) and Michael Bennet (D), wrote in a letter sent to the Senate’s top appropriations decisionmakers on Monday. “Today, the vast majority of states-- 29 in all-- have some form of reduced restrictions on marijuana. Other states have proposals to do the same. These states crafted serious, thoughtful regulatory regimes.”

An existing provision in federal spending law protects state medical cannabis laws from Justice Department interference, but it does not extend to policies allowing recreational use and sales, and its own continuance in upcoming legislation is in jeopardy after House leaders blocked a vote on it.

A current temporary spending bill-- and its policy riders like the medical marijuana protections-- is set to expire on March 23. Last month, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded Obama-era guidance that has generally allowed states to implement their own marijuana laws without federal intervention.

“Citizens who have been acting in good faith based on federal and state assurances now feel exposed,” the senators wrote. “This disruption may deny medications to the sick, push individuals back into illicit markets, and nullify the previously-effective regulations-- all while thwarting the democratically-expressed will of the states.”

The bipartisan group wants congressional leadership to join them in crating new “precise language that will preserve state laws regarding marijuana regulation until we can establish a longer-term framework.”

“It is our hope that the fiscal year 2018 appropriations will alleviate the turbulence the Attorney General’s abrupt decision has caused and that the appropriations will help preserve the strong regulatory frameworks the states have created,” the wrote. “Doing so will provide the opportunity to pursue federal legislation that both protects the legitimate federal interests at stake and respects the will of the states –- both those that have liberalized their marijuana laws and those that have not.”
Marijuana legalization, fortunately, isn't only in the hands of a barely dependable Congress. There are already cases making their way through the courts. On Valentine’s Day, federal Judge Alvin Hellerstein of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York heard oral arguments on the motion to dismiss Washington v. Sessions, a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Schedule I classification of cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act. The federal government argued to have the case dismissed. Hellerstein didn't rule and is reserving decision.

The plaintiffs in the case include: Denver Broncos Super Bowl Champion, Marvin Washington; 12-year old girl, Alexis Bortell; seven-year old Jagger Cotte of Georgia who suffers from Leigh’s Disease; disabled military combat veteran Jose Belen; and the Cannabis Cultural Association.

The lead attorney in the case, Michael Hiller, issued the following statement (in part) regarding Hellerstein reserving the decision:
Protecting our American values, way of life and civil and constitutional rights are who we are as Americans. To many, it is obvious, we are living in an era where we must remain vigilant and ask hard questions. If we look back at our collective history, this is not the first time we have seen some in the US government shamefully argue out-dated ideologies under a legal mask that is inevitably on the wrong side of history. We saw this with slavery, segregation, women’s right to vote, the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, gay marriage, and sadly, countless other times.

We’ve seen civil rights trampled on before, but we have also seen everyday Americans and leaders rise to the occasion and have our judicial branch recognize when an interpretation of the law is obviously tragically flawed and wrong.

The stated basis for the Controlled Substances Act was to help Americans’ lives. However, today, the federal government came to court to preserve the right to put Americans in jail, who use cannabis -- even when it used as an alternative medicinal treatment to addictive opioids and powerful prescription drugs. Tragically, what the federal government has done is taken the Controlled Substances Act and turned it on its head. Sadly, the government is now using the ‘Act’ to hurt and oppress US citizens, rather to liberate, deliberate and help them treat their illnesses and diseases.

We firmly believe the federal government is prostituting and perverting the Controlled Substances Act as well as blatantly criminalizing behavior that they themselves are inducing. We look forward to standing on the right side of history and ensuring that cannabis is descheduled once and for all as well as to receiving Judge Hellerstein’s decision, and moving the case forward.
Goal ThermometerTim Canova, the progressive Democrat taking on anti-legalization fanatic Debbie Wasserman Schultz in south Florida, is eager to get to Congress to work on many issues, legalization being one of them. This morning he told us that he's "opposed the misguided drug war for many years, and I support efforts to protect state marijuana laws from any federal crackdowns. In fact, I also support legislation to delist cannabis as a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance, the most restrictive category in U.S. drug law.

"Studies now show that states which have liberalized their marijuana laws have far lower levels of opioid addiction. One major study found that opiate related deaths decreased about 33 percent in 13 states in the six years following legalization of medicinal marijuana. Yet, my opponent Debbie Wasserman Schultz calls marijuana a 'gateway drug.' She opposed a statewide referendum to approve medicinal marijuana-- a referendum that was then approved by more than 70 percent of Florida voters in 2016. Meanwhile, Wasserman Schultz has taken tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from private prisons and Big Pharma makers of opiates, and she supports the drug war, privatized prisons, and the system of mass incarceration that's been rightly referred to as the New Jim Crow.

"We should respect principles of federalism in these matters and allow the states to serve as 'laboratories of reform' for medicinal and recreational cannabis. It’s time to end the war on marijuana. We need education, jobs, and public health programs as alternatives to the drug trade and mass incarceration."

Another Florida progressive running for Congress this year, Alan Grayson, has already been in Congress, where he has written and introduced bills to further the cause of legalization. "This," he told us yesterday, "is why I wrote a bill limiting federal marijuana sentences to no more than whatever the corresponding state sentence may be. (I would go further than that, but that’s a bill that actually could win a vote in today’s Congress.) I agree that there is significant Republican support for drug reform, but it’s still only a noticeable minority. You can see this from actual votes, like the vote on the Rohrabacher amendment to allow VA doctors to prescribe marijuana in medical marijuana states."

And of course, Florida isn't the only state where the debate is raging over marijuana legalization. I asked Derrick Crowe, the progressive candidate in the Austin-San Antonio that Lamar Smith is leaving open. "Two days ago," Derrick told us, "I was canvassing a rural part of the district. I met a man with scars all over his head from a serious aggravated robbery. He was struck with a tire iron and kicked savagely. He begged me, literally begged me, to fight to make marijuana legal so that people like him could have an alternative to opiods while they dealt with chronic pain from serious injuries or diseases. I've spoken to people in jail cells who were there on minor marijuana offenses, missing children's birthdays, being cycled into and out of treatment programs and the general jail populations, who absolutely posed no threat to anyone but who entered the criminal justice system through marijuana possession offenses. This is insanity. Compassion has claims on your actions. We need to legalize marijuana and stop pulling our communities apart."

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At 6:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Republican plan has long been to use Cannabis against both liberals and non-whites. Since they now control the entire Federal Government and most state governments, why would they give that up now?

At 12:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Their plan has always been to resist any social change no matter what just so they can use each issue to enrage the retarded Nazi white motherfucker demographic to keep them voting and showing up to beat protesters on the other side.

The money is ambivalent on things like marriage equality and they may even be PRO cannabis (profits to be made there), but they don't seem to mind that their Nazi shills make it take as long as possible.

If you believe the Nazis, pot is a black person's vice (gateway drug, whatever) and their white voters are far too stupid to see truth even as THEY get baked after work and on weekends. So the Nazis always try to make each social change issue a matter of hate. Gays, blacks, democrats... they can foment hate for any of them.

At 2:18 PM, Anonymous Sharan Binning said...

These guys are just going to keep playing with words. I have been reading about Marijuana and its affects on our health and its really surprising how much I did not know about this plant. Now Marijuana may not be completely safe and it would obviously interfere with our daily tasks but it’s at least not as bad as alcohol and tobacco which have been legal in most countries from a long time. Here is a recent research study: – research study done by University of Iowa on the affects of cannabis on driving and the results are quite interesting. Take a look at the original study to know more in detail.


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