In a bold move on January 4th, Attorney General Jeff Sessions pulled the Cole memo from practice by the Department of Justice. This move, seen by many as a prelude to Federal crackdowns on cannabis, opened the door to prosecution by the DOJ of individuals and companies that were engaged in completely state legal businesses. This decision, however, did not likely have the response Mr. Sessions was hoping for.
I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.
– Martin Luther King Jr. –
The McClintock-Polis Amendment was announced last April by its’ sponsors in a letter asking it to be included as an amendment in future spending bills. The amendment specifically forbids the use of Federal funds by the DOJ for cannabis enforcement in any state where medical or recreational cannabis is legal. At the time it was introduced it contained 16 signatures from members of Congress endorsing it. On Friday, Jan 12th, a letter went to the US House again asking for its inclusion in the current spending bill, this time with almost 70 signatures from members of Congress attached.
In it, the congressmen asked that “any forthcoming appropriations or funding bill” include the following language:
“None of the funds made available by this act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to any of the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, to prevent any of them from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of marijuana on non-Federal lands within their respective jurisdictions.”
The representatives said the proposed provision respects constitutional authority for states to regulate commerce within their own borders.
“Specifically, we are concerned with several attempts to apply federal law upon commerce related to cannabis that is conducted entirely within the boundaries of states that have legalized such commerce,” the representatives wrote. “While the federal government is legitimately empowered to regulate interstate commerce, the measures adopted by states such as California, Oregon and Colorado are aimed solely at intrastate commerce and as such should not be interfered with.”
“Indeed, this is exactly the mechanism (former U.S. Supreme Court Justice) Louis Brandeis referred to when he wrote of the states as laboratories for innovation and experimentation.”
“Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.
Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote”
And that’s far from the only thing…
In this past week the state of Vermont legalized cannabis through its’ legislature without any form of public referendum, none was needed. The Governor has also agreed since the passage that he will sign the bill.
In addition, New Jersey this week introduced legislation to completely legalize cannabis in the state despite the recent DOJ move by AG Sessions. Democratic state Sen. Nicholas Scutari introduced the measure allowing the recreational use of marijuana by those 21 and older on Tuesday, the same day the new session of the Democrat-led Legislature convened. New Jersey governor-elect Phil Murphy campaigned and won in November on a promise to legalize recreational marijuana. He has said legalization could bring in roughly $300 million in new revenue. New Jersey already has a medical cannabis program.
Much of this increase in support and forward momentum appears to be a direct response to the Sessions move. If that turns out to be the case, in one of the strangest twists of fate imaginable we might all have to actually thank Mr Sessions for being the man who lit the fuse of legalization. Personally, I could not imagine a better mantle to bestow upon Jeff Sessions than “the man who made legal cannabis a reality” and I hope we can all work together to make that a reality.