Spark Notes: Jeff Sessions

You’ve heard about him ever since the start of the Trump administration – Jeff Sessions, our current Attorney General and all around pain in the proverbial ass.

He’s antiquated, he ignores what the people of the United States want and even President Trump described him as Mr. Magoo – A 1940s cartoon character who’s extreme nearsightedness and stubborn refusal to admit a problem cause quite a mess. Sound familiar?

We can mock him all we want (and SNL does a pretty great job of that) but if someone doesn’t put this dude into place, he could seriously do some damage to the American people he’s supposed to be protecting.

Removing The Cole Memo

In January,  Sessions removed the Cole memo, which was a Justice Department guideline that set a policy of noninterference in states that legalized cannabis. Originally drafted by former US Attorney General James M. Cole, the memo boiled down to a few things:

  • Don’t sell pot to minors
  • Don’t let the marijuana grown in your state come out of your state
  • Don’t let violence (from gangs to use of firearms) be any way linked to the distribution of marijuana.

Pretty simple guidelines, right? Apparently Sessions disagreed which now could mean a target on all states that have legalized marijuana.


The People Are Fighting Back

But do not fear! The states and the people are fighting this hard.

A child, a soldier, and a former NFL football player – sounds like a punchline for a joke, right? Those are just a few of the 5 plaintiffs ready to go to court for their rights.

Headlines hit this recently that Jeff Sessions is being sued as Attorney General over medical marijuana. This comes as the plaintiffs have deemed the Controlled Substance Act unconstitutional.  

Jose Belen, a combat veteran, uses marijuana to fight his PTSD; 12-year-old Alexis Bortell uses marijuana as a lifesaving drug to stop her epileptic seizures; 6-year-old Jagger Cotte uses marijuana to treat his progressive loss of mental and movement abilities from Leigh syndrome; and former NFL Linebacker Marvin Washington, who owns a cannabis business that makes products designed to aid head traumas.


Should Cannabis be Schedule I? (Spoiler Alert – No)

These people, in addition to the Cannabis Cultural Association are basically saying that pot shouldn’t be linked as a Schedule I drug, which is in the same category as heroin. The ability to be able to travel with medical marijuana or conduct business is impeded and regularly threatened by the federal government.  

Their lawyer, Attorney Michael Hiller, said in an interview with HighTimes said:

“it violates the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, an assortment of protections guaranteed by the First, Ninth and Tenth Amendments, plus the fundamental Right to Travel, the right to Equal Protection, and right to Substantive Due Process.”

This lawsuit has the potential to change the future of medical marijuana forever if the judge rules in favor of the plaintiffs. Especially at a time where Congress doesn’t seem to be making many strides in the legalization efforts. If the federal government keeps changing the way the game is played, how will the states ever be able to catch up?


Lawmakers Have Joined the Fight, Too

Our lawmakers are prepared to fight Sessions if it comes down to it. New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, put motion into the idea of the Marijuana Justice Act back in August and in January it was introduced by House representatives Ro Khanna and Barbara Lee as the house version of the bill.  

As reported by NORML, the act would “(1) remove marijuana from the US Controlled Substances Act, thereby ending the federal criminalization of cannabis; (2) incentivize states to mitigate existing and ongoing racial disparities in state-level marijuana arrests; (3) expunge federal convictions specific to marijuana possession; (4) allow individuals currently serving time in federal prison for marijuana-related violations to petition the court for resentencing; (5) and create a community reinvestment fund to invest in communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs.” Talk about change!

This could be monumental if taken seriously. Both Republicans and Democrat leaders are over his bullsh*t. They are going to use science, the law, and common sense to make sure that Sessions is put in his place as well as protect patients and law-abiding businesses.


What does Congress Think?

Even Congress is in partial “support” of medical marijuana, for the time being. The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment – which prevents the Attorney General from using tax dollars to prosecute medical marijuana businesses and patients – was extended again until March 23.

Back in June, Sessions wrote a letter to Congress on why he believed medical marijuana protections should be taken away:

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. 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.”

The dangerous drug traffickers who threaten American lives are the big pharmaceutical companies that are pumping Americans with opioids, WHICH IS THE DRUG EPIDEMIC HE’S REFERRING TO! It’s been in a recent study that medical marijuana has actually aided in the treatment of the symptoms of opioid withdrawals.

If cannabis oil extract can treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, chronic pain, seizures, amongst a whole other host of issues –  why wouldn’t that be pushed through the red tape to help the American people? Isn’t that his #1 job? The Trump administration can’t ignore the facts. Let’s hope that the federal government does its job – to represent what the people want.


The State’s Rights

Currently, there are 30 states that have legalized medicinal marijuana. States such as Georgia, Arizona and Michigan are looking to legalize recreational sales. Colorado is gearing up to release some prisoners that have non-violent related marijuana convictions (which could help the issue of overcrowded prisons.) Seattle is looking to throw out over 1,000 marijuana convictions made before the laws changed. San Diego and San Francisco is clearing criminal records of people with misdemeanor marijuana possession convictions.

It’s happening all over the world from Australia who just legalized medicinal usage, Mexico, potentially Germany; Antigua and Barbuda are looking to decriminalize marijuana as well. With more and more states pushing back against the federal government saying enough is enough, could we see the end of prohibition in our lifetime?


The (First) Ruling

According to Judge Alvin Hellerstein, that time is not today. On Monday, February 26th, 2018 the New York judge ruled that he didn’t have enough balls to take on the case. Instead, he told them to “seek administrative remedies” from the DEA itself. That’s like the cops telling someone that just got robbed, well maybe try calling the burglars and see if they’ll get back to you. It’s robbin season to say the least…


The People Respond

The plaintiff’s Attorney,  Michael Hiller, said “The time has come for the courts to abandon decades-old precedent, notched with obsolete technicalities, and catch up with modern science and contemporary principles of constitutional law.”

Alexis Bortell tweeted:

This little girl, as well as the four other plaintiffs, are not going down without a real fight, and we’ll be standing by to cheer them on! We’ll keep you updated on all the things to come with this case so stay tuned.

Have thoughts or questions about this case? Comment below and tell us what you think about the court’s decision.

Header image via NY Daily News 

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