This plan could help stop Jeff Sessions from coming after cannabis


Thor Benson / Cannabis News Box Contributor 

A lot of people in the cannabis industry and beyond are worried about Attorney General Jeff Sessions using the Justice Department to come after legal cannabis. Sessions recently got rid of what was referred to as the “Cole memo,” which essentially said that the Department of Justice would not interfere with states that legalized cannabis, and that caused quite a bit of chaos within the industry. However, there’s a plan in Congress that could stop Sessions in his tracks.

Around 70 members of Congress currently support something called the McClintock-Polis Amendment to the government spending bill that’s currently being worked on, which would prevent the Justice Department from using any funds to go after legalized cannabis. How likely is it to become part of the spending bill?

“​It is not as likely as inclusion of Rohrabacher-Farr​ ​protections for medical marijuana, but the chances are much greater now than they were before AG Sessions announced that the Cole Memo was being rescinded,” Morgan Fox, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, told Cannabis News Box.

Rohrabacher-Farr​ is basically the same as McClintock-Polis, but it only applies to medical cannabis, so it may be more attractive to conservative lawmakers that are okay with medical cannabis and against social use.

“​If included, the McClintock-Polis amendment would effectively prevent the DOJ from spending resources to target businesses and individuals that are in compliance with state law, but the legal conflict would still exist, and the protections would only be valid for [fiscal year] 2018, or until they were renewed for the next spending bill,” Fox said.

McClintock-Polis would stop Sessions from going after the cannabis industry, but it’s a temporary fix. The next Congress could decide to let Sessions use as much money as he wants to go after cannabis. That’s why Fox said there needs to be a more permanent solution.

“​The spending amendments are effective short-term fixes, but we need a permanent solution. There are several pieces of legislation being introduced this year that would make marijuana policy a state issue in the long-term,” Fox said. “The ideal solution would be to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act schedule and allow states to determine their own policies without fear of federal interference.​“

As usual, there are many ways to fix the symptoms of the problem of cannabis being illegal at the federal level, but the solution that fixes all of these symptoms is to legalize cannabis nationwide. Until that happens, we’ll have a patchwork of partially solved problems.