Washington, D.C. – U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is planning to ask Congress to nullify federal medical cannabis protections – known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment – that were ratified in 2014.
Rohrabacher–Farr, introduced originally by Representatives Maurice Hinchey, Dana Rohrabacher, and Sam Farr in 2003, prohibits the Justice Department from using federal funds to prevent certain states from enacting laws that authorize the “use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.” After six failed attempts, Rohrabacher-Farr passed in the House in May 2014, and became law seven months later. The historic amendment is seen as a victory for cannabis reform advocates, although it does nothing to change the legality of medical cannabis in the states. In addition, the law must come up for an annual renewal vote to stay in effect.
Sessions claims that the amendment “inhibits authority to enforce the Controlled Substances Act.” He also questions the wisdom of Congress restricting the Justice Department’s choices, particularly at this critical juncture in time when violent crime is on the rise and the country is in the midst of a “historic drug epidemic.”
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Medical cannabis proponents, however, are quick to point out that associating the current “drug epidemic” – which largely involves opiate drugs – with medical cannabis flies in the face of research into the use of medical marijuana. Even NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) acknowledges that states in which medical cannabis has been legalized, actually have a lower rate of opiate-related overdoses and deaths. Sessions’ proposal could, in effect, worsen the opiate crisis In America, instead of alleviating it.
In addition, as a spokesperson for Rep. Rohrabacher says, “Mr. Sessions stands, sadly … against veterans and other suffering Americans who we now know conclusively are helped dramatically by medical marijuana.”
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