AG Sessions Escalates Drug War with New Sentencing Rules

Nostalgia for the 1980s and ’90s is hot right now, and that retro fever seems to have afflicted AG Jeff Sessions, whose new sentencing memo initiates a throwback to the draconian law enforcement policies of the Reagan years of the Drug War.

In a memo released to federal prosecutors, Attorney General Jeff Sessions opened the door for prosecutors to “charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense” in federal drug cases, including those against low-level offenders.

While the memo does not explicitly mention cannabis, it signals a sharp escalation of an enforcement-focused approach to federal drug enforcement that, while not unexpected, is still sweeping in its scope and severity.

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Congress’ 2017 Budget Plan Reauthorizes Protections For State Medical Cannabis Programs

Spending legislation approved in the past 24 hours by members of the US House and Senate reauthorizes language protecting state-sanctioned medical marijuana and industrial hemp programs. The President is expected to sign the budget bill into law imminently.

Specifically, Section 537 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017, states that no federal funds may be appropriated to “prevent any [state] from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana..” That language, initially passed by Congress in 2014, is now known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment.

A similarly worded amendment protecting state-sponsored hemp programs was also reauthorized.

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The National District Attorneys Association Is Lying About Marijuana

A recently released white paper published by the National District Attorneys Association is calling for the federal government to strictly enforce anti-cannabis laws in states that have regulated its production and distribution for either medical or recreational purposes.

The working group, which consists of D.A.s and prosecutors from more than a dozen states (including representatives from adult use states like California and Colorado), hopes to influence the Trump administration to set aside the 2013 Cole memorandum. That memorandum, authored by former US Deputy Attorney General James Cole, directs state 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.

“To maintain respect for the rule of law, it is essential that federal drug enforcement policy regarding the manufacture, importation, possession, use and distribution of marijuana be applied consistently across the nation,” the NDAA paper concludes.

Read more at NORML

Does Trump Even Have a Cannabis Policy? Signs Point to No

Initial cannabis industry responses to Trump’s election and subsequent promotion of avowed “drug warriors” ranged from cautious optimism to abject horror. But after repeated mixed signals and false starts on a potential federal cannabis crackdown, a new picture is emerging: the Trump administration may not have any official policy plans when it comes to cannabis.

Apart from using the power of his office to promote his own businesses and enrich his children — and delaying Twitter’s free-fall into cash-bleeding irrelevancy — President Donald Trump has had a hard time actually getting anything done. Whether this relative policy gridlock is the result of an inexperienced cabinet, a lack of organization or an internal mutiny is difficult to say, but the record speaks for itself: not much is getting done.

Even basic functions of office like presenting cogent (or at least consistent) messaging has proven difficult for the Trump team. On top of the almost daily scandals plaguing its communications department, the White House can’t even be sure where its own (presumably GPS-tracked, hopefully very hard to lose track of) ships at sea are located.

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AG Sessions’ Right Hand Man Wants to Amp Up the Drug War

The uncertainty surrounding the Trump Administration’s policy direction on cannabis enforcement has had a chilling effect across the industry. Now, with the elevation of an avowed drug warrior to AG Jeff Sessions’ right hand man, prospects seem grim for a “hands-off” DOJ when it comes to cannabis.

Over at the U.S. Justice Department, the people president Trump has entrusted with federal law enforcement are making fewer, smaller waves than press secretary, Sean Spicer — whose most recent high-profile blunder saw him favorably comparing Adolf Hitler to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad — but they’ve proven no less willing to go against the grains of data and public opinion.

Despite a near-historic low crime rate, Trump has repeatedly invoked a need to return to an era of “law and order.” His attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has claimed that marijuana legalization has led to a crime spike — an assertion that has no basis in fact.

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Biggest Block for Big Bud Still Banking: Fed Dread Spurs Purge

With the Trump administration still alternating between silence and saber rattling on federal cannabis enforcement, next generation merchant-service providers like Square and Paypal are joining major banks and financial institutions in their blacklisting of bud-based businesses.

The cannabis industry’s most tightly guarded secret isn’t proprietary genetics or undiscovered extraction methods — it’s where the cash is hidden.

Nearly all big-name banks and major merchant-services providers (the third parties who handle credit-card transactions) refuse to do business with marijuana dispensaries, grow operations and other state-legal cannabis firms that deal directly with the plant. The result is a multi-billion dollar industry, acting as an all-cash business.

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Sessions’ DOJ Reviewing Marijuana Enforcement, Governors Fight Back

This week, Attorney General Jeff “Marijuana Consumers Aren’t Good People” Sessions issued a memo outlining a requested task force inquiry into a number of public safety issues, one of which being the enforcement of federal marijuana laws.

The memo was sent to 94 U.S. Attorney’s Offices and Department of Justice component heads to provide “an update on the Department¹s Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety.”

The Attorney General announced the creation of Task Force subcommittees that will focus on a variety of issue areas including evaluating marijuana enforcement policy.

Read more at NORML

Oregon May Declare Emergency Over Sessions’ Pot Talk

Oregon isn’t taking a “wait and see” approach to the mixed messages coming out of the White House on cannabis — the state is taking direct action to protect the private information of its medical cannabis patients and adult use consumers.

Oregon has moved closer to shielding consumers in its adult use and medical markets from the threat of federal enforcement and is considering declaring an emergency due to that threat.

Senate Bill 863, which passed on earlier in the week, would prohibit cannabis retailers from recording, retaining and transferring type of information that is contained on passport, driver license, military identification card or other ID that bears picture of person. It would also create exceptions for retailers, who, with the consumer’s permission, want to collect data for marketing programs.

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AG Sessions: Using Pot to Treat Opioid Addiction is a Joke

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is facing an uncertain future and major political backlash over two undisclosed meetings with a Kremlin official during the 2016 presidential campaign. Right before that scandal broke, Sessions spoke in front of the National Association of Attorneys General, lambasting the notion that cannabis can help treat opioid addiction.

Despite research and data pointing in the opposite direction, U.S. Attorney General Jefferson Sessions told his state-level counterparts at the Association of Attorney Generals winter meeting that strides made in opiate addiction recovery using cannabis are a joke.

While we knew Sessions was no friend of the expansion of legal cannabis policies and industry, this is his first time attacking the medical-use aspects of cannabis, as opposed to painting with a wider brush against the alleged devil of legalization .

Read more at Cannabis Now