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Pennsylvania Governor to AG Sessions: Back Off!

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  • Court Case Highlights Need For Continued Federal Protections Last week, a US District Court blocked federal prosecutors from continuing a case against a medical marijuana cultivation company as a result of the current, albeit limited, congressional protections from the Department of Justice. LA Weekly reported: Humboldt County growers Anthony Pisarski and Sonny Moore had already pleaded guilty to federal allegations (conspiracy to manufacture and possess with intent to distribute) but sought an evidentiary hearing based on legislation, first enacted in 2014, that prohibits the U.S. Department of Justice from cracking down on cannabis suspects who are otherwise following their state laws. The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment is a budget rider, co-authored by SoCal U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, that prevents enforcement and prosecution in medical marijuana states by stripping funding for such endeavors. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg on Tuesday stayed the prosecution, so the case is closed unless the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment expires and fails to be re-enacted and federal prosecutors want to resume their case. The defendants’ Beverly Hills attorney, Ronald Richards, says: “This is the first time in my 23-year career I’ve had a case stopped because of an appropriations rider. “What the court did in this case may be used as a blueprint for other cases,” he says. “It opens the door for people not to get scared.” In response to this verdict, California NORML Executive Director Dale Gieringer said, “It’s significant that a federal court ruled that people targeted by feds and in compliance with California’s medical marijuana laws ruled in the defendants’ favor.” The Judge’s verdict was predicated on a previous ruling, United States v. McIntosh, a Ninth Circuit decision last year that upheld a medical marijuana defense for those facing federal prosecution in lawful medical states. “This is the first case I’m aware of where McIntosh was cited and used to full effect,” continued Gieringer. On July 27, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) successfully offered and passed the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment in the Senate Appropriations Committee to maintain this protection for lawful medical marijuana programs from the Department of Justice. You can send a message to your Representative to support this language in the House by clicking HERE. ...
  • Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2017 Representatives Andy Harris, M.D. (R-MD-01), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-03), H. Morgan Griffith (R-VA-09), and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19) introduced H.R. 3391: The Medical Marijuana Research Act of 2017. This Act amends the federal law to facilitate clinical investigations involving the use of cannabis and cannabis-derived products. As you may know, there are many benefits to medical cannabis. Those suffering from PTSD, Tourette’s Syndrome, Parkinson’s Disease, and many other debilitating conditions have found relief because of medical marijuana. But, despite the fact that over 200 million Americans now have legal access to some form of medical marijuana, present regulations make clinical investigations involving cannabis needlessly onerous. Passage of this measure would expedite federal reviews of clinical protocols, provide greater access to scientists who wish to study the drug, and mandate an FDA review of the relevant science. Please click HERE to contact your Representative and urge him/her to support this important measure. ...
  • Washington State Responds To Attorney General Sessions’ Veiled Threats As first reported by Tom Angell of MassRoots.com, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson responded to a July 24 letter from US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in which Sessions’ made multiple allegations all based on a single misleading 2016 report. One would say, they didn’t pull any punches: “Your letter, citing the March 2016 Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (NW HIDTA) report on marijuana in Washington, makes a number of allegations that are outdated, incorrect, or based on incomplete information.” Cutting right to the heart of the matter, i.e. facts, the Washington state leaders again articulated their desire to educate the (seemingly willing) ignorant Sessions. “We have twice requested an in-person meeting with you because we believe it will lead to better understanding than exchanging letters. If we can engage in a more direct dialogue, we might avoid this sort of miscommunication and make progress on the issues that are important to both of us. We therefore reiterate our request to meet with you, followed by further appropriate meetings between state and DOJ officials.” One of the most basic functions of government is to simply provide consistency and certainty in law enforcement. So after repeated efforts by the state’s leadership to receive clarification, basic facets of the Department of Justice’s approach are still unknown. In yet another attempt for guidance, the Governor and state Attorney General requested information on: Whether DOJ intends to follow recommendations from its Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety—in particular, its reported recommendation to continue previous federal policy on state legalization of marijuana. Whether President Trump’s previous statements of support for medical marijuana, and leaving recreational marijuana legalization to the states, represent the policy of the federal government. Whether DOJ will support reasonable federal policies allowing financial institutions to provide service to licensed marijuana businesses, in order to avoid the public safety risks and transparency problems associated with all-cash businesses. How state-regulated marijuana should be treated by the federal government following the President’s declaration that the opioid crisis constitutes a national emergency, and whether the federal government will support objective, independent research into the effects of marijuana law reform on opioid use and abuse. Whether the federal government will help protect public health by supporting agricultural research on the safety of pesticides used in marijuana cultivation. Whether the federal government will support research into expedited roadside DUI testing methods for law enforcement, as alternatives to blood draws. How Attorney General Sessions will respond, only time will tell. You can click HERE to send a message to your Representative to urge their support for The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act, bipartisan legislation to prevent the Department of Justice from enforcing federal prohibition in states that have chosen to legalize medical or adult-use marijuana. You can view the full letter from Governor Inslee and AG Ferguson below: Washington Officials Respond to Sessions Marijuana Letter by tomangell on Scribd...
  • Peachtree NORML Challenges the Faith and Freedom Coalition Post originally published on Peachtree NORML. At the Georgia Republican Assembly Convention on 8/12/2017 David Baker, the Executive Director of the Faith and Freedom Coalition of Georgia, used a portion of a 1993 quote from the then Executive Director of NORML, Richard Cowan. Mr. Baker quoted Cowan as saying “The key to it (marijuana legalization) is medical access”. Baker’s comments were videoed by AllOnGeorgia’s Jonathan Giles, who wrote about them. Jonathan reached out to me and asked for a comment or two, which I happily obliged him with. You can watch the video and read his commentary by clicking here. I highly suggest you do. It’s what we are fighting here in Georgia. What Richard Cowan said in 1993 was, “The key to it is medical access, because once you have hundreds of thousands of people using marijuana medically under medical supervision, the scam is going to be blown”. Cowan’s statement is an indictment of the DEA classification of marijuana as a Schedule I substance, having a high potential for abuse and no medicinal value. Prior to 1937 and The Marihuana Tax Act, Cannabis, marijuana’s real name, was widely used in the preparation of medicines. The American Medical Association condemned its pending Prohibition in a letter to the Ways and Means Committee that enacted the legislation. The AMA letter stated, in part, “Since the medicinal use of cannabis has not caused and is not causing addiction, the prevention of the use of the drug for medicinal purposes can accomplish no good end whatsoever. How far it may serve to deprive the public of the benefits of a drug that on further research may prove to be of substantial value, it is impossible to foresee”. Keeping cannabis away from us by prohibiting it was a scam. That is Cowan’s point. David Baker and his Faith and Freedom Coalition of Georgia have taken the first six words of a 29-word statement and used them to imply that legal medical access to marijuana is a part of some nefarious scheme by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Nothing is further from the truth. One of NORML’s missions is to unveil the truths about the roots of cannabis prohibition. To educate our society about the corporate greed, willful ignorance, propaganda and government corruption that was involved in the 1930s, and is still involved to this day. The science of cannabis proves that it is safer than either cigarettes or alcohol. It proves that cannabis is a beneficial plant. The evidence is out there for anyone to find. David Baker is uninformed at best and willfully deceptive at worst. In today’s information age, ignorance is a choice. Whose Faith and Freedom are you talking about when you spew your deceptive venom, Mr. Baker? Faith? I am the son of a Baptist preacher, a Godly man who served his Lord to the end of his days. I was born into the Fold and I am washed in the Blood. I know a thing or two about Faith and the Teachings of Christ. What I hear in your Prohibitionist rhetoric seems far removed from those teachings. It is certainly not the Faith of those hundreds of thousands in this Nation who are currently being helped, just as Mr. Cowan predicted, by marijuana. They have faith, alright. They have faith in the fact that marijuana is doing for them what Big Pharma can’t in a safe, effective manner. Freedom? I am also a 20-year Veteran of the U.S. Air Force. My father survived the Ardennes Forest in WWII. I know what Freedom looks like. This ain’t it!! What you advocate would keep cannabis away from those Veterans whom it would benefit. Those Veterans who did the Government’s bidding and fought for YOUR Freedom, sir. NORML advocates Freedom. The Freedom of adults in this great land, which was founded on individual rights and freedoms, to make their own choices concerning the use of this plant. Whose Freedom do you advocate for, Mr. Baker? That of your shrinking, narrow-minded ilk that refuses to see the benefits of full legalization? For you and your organization to take it a step further and vilify Representative Allen Peake, a true Georgia hero, for his efforts to obtain safe access to cannabinoid medicine for legal Georgia patients is unconscionable. Now there is a man who is putting his Faith to work. Shame on you, Mr. Baker. If you had half of Allen’s Compassion, a principle taught by Christ, you wouldn’t be doing this. As the Executive Director of Peachtree NORML, I challenge you to PROVE IT, David Baker. PROVE to the citizens of Georgia that marijuana is dangerous and should remain illegal here. PROVE to us that the cultivation, processing, and sale of marijuana will lead to an increase in crime, or poverty, or any other social ill in Georgia. Prove that your rhetoric is not just atavistic fear-mongering, akin to that of Harry J. Anslinger. How about it, Dave? Let’s get someone from NORML on a stage with you for a public debate on the issue. Let’s invite the Press. Let’s have an audience Q&A after the debate. It’ll be the Fight of the Century. Tom McCain is the Executive Director of Peachtree NORML, the Georgia State Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform Of Marijuana Laws. Find out more at http://www.peachtreenorml.org/, follow them on Facebook and Twitter, and support their efforts by making a contribution at http://www.peachtreenorml.org/donate. ...
  • SMART Bill Reintroduced in Congress Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (D-WA-1) Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (D-WA-01) has reintroduced the State Marijuana And Regulatory Tolerance (SMART) Enforcement Act (H.R. 3534). This bill prohibits state-sanctioned marijuana consumers and businesses from being prosecuted by the federal government. By a margin of more than 6 to 1, Americans say that individual states should be able to make their own laws governing the use and sale of marijuana. The SMART Enforcement Act acknowledges this voter sentiment while also ensuring states are operating in a safe and responsible manner. In a prepared statement, Congresswoman DelBene says that her legislation “will fix the conflict between state and federal law by giving states effectively regulating marijuana themselves, such as Washington, a waiver from the Controlled Substances Act. It also resolves the banking issues currently forcing dispensaries to operate on an unsafe, all-cash basis. These waivers will ensure people in states that have different laws than the federal government on marijuana are protected from prosecution, provided they meet certain requirements, as more and more states work to regulate marijuana within their own borders.” Legislation similar to this is pending in California, Assembly Bill 1578, to try and limit potential federal interference in the state’s marijuana regulatory laws. As Congresswoman DelBene said, “People in these states should not live in fear of the unpredictable actions of the Attorney General and Department of Justice.” Click HERE to urge your Representatives to support this legislation....

Pennsylvania Governor to AG Sessions: Back Off!

June 15
15:00 2017

Pennsylvania Governor to AG Sessions: Back Off!

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director
    June 15, 2017
    Comments

    In a recent letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf wrote a pointed letter regarding the Department of Justice and it’s posturing to implement a crackdown of lawful state medical marijuana programs.

    The full letter:

    Dear Attorney General Sessions:

    Last year, the Pennsylvania passed bipartisan legislation to legalize Medical Marijuana that I was proud to sign into law. The legislation was the result of conversations with Republicans and Democrats and fierce advocacy from families of children who were stricken with terrible illness that could be helped by Medical Marijuana.

    We talked to kids who suffer dozens of seizures in a given day. We met veterans who have seen absolute terror and seek relief from the effects of their post-traumatic stress. We approached the responsibility of providing relief to the people of Pennsylvania very thoughtfully.

    Since I signed the legislation, we have taken very careful and deliberate steps to implement the law so that those who are suffering can get relief while ensuring that the state is a responsible steward of the program.

    Given the bipartisan and medical consensus for Medical Marijuana in Pennsylvania and many other states, I am disturbed to know that you are actively pursuing a change in federal law to go after medical marijuana suppliers.

    We do not need the federal government getting in the way of Pennsylvania’s right to deliver them relief through our new medical marijuana program.

    Your action to undo the protections of the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which prevents the use federal funds to disrupt states’ efforts to implement “their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana” is misguided.

    If you seek to further disrupt our ability to establish a legal way to deliver relief of medical marijuana to our citizens, I will ask the Attorney General of Pennsylvania to take legal action to protect our residents and state sovereignty.

    Sincerely,

    Governor Tom Wolf

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions Photo by Gage Skidmore

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions
    Photo by Gage Skidmore

    This comes in response to a recently revealed private letter that Jeff Sessions sent to Congressional leadership requesting that the DOJ be permitted to target and prosecute state-licensed medical cannabis facilities, currently prohibited by a spending rider known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment.

    “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, “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.”

    Jeff Sessions actually seems to believe that lawful medical marijuana patients, i.e. sick people, are causing the violent crime and contributing to transnational drug trafficking.

    Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was questioned about federal marijuana policy during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing earlier this week and he brought up current DOJ policy and left the door wide open to a potential crackdown.

    “Jim Cole tried to deal with it in that memorandum and at the moment that memorandum is still in effect. Maybe there will be changes to it in the future but we’re still operating under that policy which is an effort to balance the conflicting interests with regard to marijuana,” stated Rosenstein, “So I can assure you that is going to be a high priority for me as the U.S. Attorneys come on board to talk about how to deal with that challenge in the states that have legalized or decriminalized marijuana, whether it be for recreational or medical use…”

    The Cole Memo, is a Justice Department memorandum, authored by US Deputy Attorney General James Cole in 2013 to US attorneys in all 50 states directs prosecutors not to interfere with state legalization efforts and those licensed to engage in the plant’s production and sale, provided that such persons do not engage in marijuana sales to minors or divert the product to states that have not legalized its use, among other guidelines.

    But while the Justice Department contemplates its next move, Wolf and other state politicians are taking action. Recently, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) and Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) issued a letter to the new U.S. Attorney General and to Secretary of Treasury Mnuchin calling on them to uphold the Obama Administration’s largely ‘hands off’ policies toward marijuana legalization, as outlined in the Cole Memo.

    “Overhauling the Cole Memo is sure to produce unintended and harmful consequences,” the governors wrote. “Changes that hurt the regulated market would divert existing marijuana product into the black market and increase dangerous activity in both our states and our neighboring states.”

    Click here to send a message to your member of Congress to urge them to force the Department of Justice to respect state marijuana laws and then visit http://norml.org/act to support other efforts in your state and federally.

    PA resident? Click here to send a message to your state lawmakers to support the effort to decriminalize marijuana in the Keystone State.

    Posted in : Advocacy, GOVERNMENT, Jeff Sessions, LAW ENFORCEMENT, Policy
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