It's been a bad week for Jeff Sessions -- the U.S. attorney general who is "weak" and "beleaguered" according to his boss, President Donald Trump. And he's looking even worse now that the Senate has rejected his request to crack down on states that have legalized medical marijuana.
Last May, Sessions asked lawmakers to nix the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment from the next federal budget. That budget rider is the only thing protecting states that have legalized medical marijuana from being raided by drug-enforcement officers. The amendment forbids the DEA from spending so much as a penny on prosecuting states that have legalized medical marijuana. So it's a major thorn in the side of Jeff "Good people don't smoke marijuana" Sessions.
To save America from those no-good patients, he sent a letter imploring Congress to scrap the amendment and allow him to unleash the DEA on those legal states.
"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."
Apparently Sessions thinks the world would be a better place if patients like Charlotte Figi stopped using cannabis to treat her intractable epilepsy. Maybe he believes the 300 seizures she used to have every day were actually preventing her from leading a life of crime.
Luckily, the Senate isn't interested in sicking the DEA on dispensaries or depriving medical marijuana patients of their medicine. Earlier today, the rider was approved by the Appropriations Committee, who said that the federal government isn't interested in wasting time and money on opposing a "humane" approach to regulating marijuana.
“29 states and the District of Columbia have decided it’s more humane to regulate medical marijuana than to criminalize it," Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) said in a hearing before the vote. "Almost every state—46 right now, and counting—regulate the use of a marijuana derivative that is used to treat epilepsy and other rare medical conditions. I think just about every member on this committee represents a state with patients who would be protected under this amendment. The federal government can’t investigate everything. And shouldn’t. And I don’t want them spending money pursuing medical marijuana patients who are following state law, whether they’re an epileptic or whatever they might be.”
The rider isn't in the clear yet though. It still has to be passed along with the rest of the budget bill in the fall. But the strong support that it received from the bipartisan Appropriations Committee is a good sign for the bill -- and a bad sign for Sessions, who is at odds with his own party (as well as reality) when it comes to medical marijuana.