On Thursday January 4th, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded an Obama-era policy regarding marijuana (cannabis).
In his one-page memo, the Attorney General puts things very simply:
Given the [Justice] Department’s well established principles, previous nationwide guidance specific to marijuana enforcement is unnecessary, and is rescinded, effective immediately.
The “guidance” Sessions refers to here is the August 29, 2013 policy guidance memorandum issued by the then-Deputy Attorney General James Cole. This former memo sought to “tune” the enforcement and prosecution of the law and the crimes against that law, as regards marijuana sales, possession and use.
Cannabis is illegal on the Federal books. This is a Federal statute that applies to the United States of America as a whole. However, there has long been a push to legalize this substance, and what President Obama did, through his Deputy AG, was to soften the emphasis on prosecution of crimes involving possession or use of cannabis. The text of the Obama-era policy, written by then Deputy Attorney General James Cole, indicated that the prosecution of such crimes should be limited to these areas:
- Preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors;
- Preventing revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels;
- Preventing the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal under state law in some form to other states;
- Preventing state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs or other illegal activity;
- Preventing violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana;
- Preventing drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use;
- Preventing the growing of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by marijuana production on public lands; and
- Preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property.
While this list looks very reasonable, what it actually did was to subtly lift the ban on use. Following this directive, so far eight states and the District of Columbia have all made marijuana use completely legal, in violation of the federal statute. Moreover, in some places a major industry for cannabis agriculture has sprung up.
It is interesting to note that along with “legal” pot agriculture, (called “pot grows” in my old home state of Colorado), there are a great many illegal grows on land that appears to be National Forest and reserved lands as well. The industry is booming, of course. Colorado and no doubt other states, have tried to use this new legality as a tax revenue stream. The most amazing thing is that the revenue from such business activity is directed at… the school system. The results? Watch, and… wait for it…
The humor here is certainly real, but the real story behind some of the things now taking place is not so funny. In a September 2017 piece on Today.com, the use of “marijuana edibles” is creating problems. Serious problems.
In Indiana this summer, 11 teenagers were hospitalized after eating marijuana gummy bears. Just weeks before that incident, a 10-year-old boy in New York got sick from eating a sour gummy candy he found in his father’s vehicle. The product contained cannabis oil and the boy’s father was arrested for child endangerment. Now, police are issuing urgent warnings to parents.
“This is extremely dangerous,” Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency room physician at New York City’s Lenox Hill Hospital, told TODAY national investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen last year. “When young children get a hold of these products, they can have severe reactions, including nausea, vomiting, disorientation, anxiety-like reactions and even psychotic reactions that can make them do things they wouldn’t normally do.”
This is for our littlest ones. But the problem is far worse still. As a former para counselor, responsible for the care and treatment of hundreds of teenaged and young adult drug users who were trying to get their lives back, I heard a great many stories of lives shattered by drug use.
Most of the time the ONLY drug used was pot or pot and some type of alcohol.
I learned of young ladies prostituting themselves for money for pot, I counseled kids who held other kids at gunpoint for money for pot. And of course, I heard many stories of those who used cannabis to just get through a day, but that day was laced with failure and broken relationships. Even in Denver, homelessness has risen by 8 percent since 2013, and the people who are out of their house because they could not pay for the mortgage admit to smoking pot, but “it has nothing to do with me not having a home…”, which is a very common by-line with all compulsive drug users. The drug is NEVER the problem to them, but an outside observer is usually quick to see the truth.
President Obama very deliberately did this to our country. Although the forces for legalization are much larger and more widespread than this one man, he was the facilitator of what has come now. Now the problem is worse. And what is still worse is that there is an amazing lack of sanity on the part of the the Mainstream media, including financial papers and even conservative news programming about this.
In several Web SEO searches today, there was not one single news-piece in support of Atty. General Sessions move, which really is very light – TOO light, in my opinion. Every major media publication, and a great many politicians, including GOP members, the supposed conservatives, came out against this move, with statements ranging from US Senator Cory Gardner’s “[this] has trampled on the will of the voters”, to NORML’s battlecry “With nearly two-thirds of Americans, including an outright majority of Republicans, Democrats and Independents supporting marijuana legalization, this is not just bad policy, but awful politics…”
So, the thing that makes this somehow “right” is that everybody agrees with it? Jeff Sessions has begun to take a stand for what is truly right. The genie is indeed out of the bottle on this one, and it is a courageous move to go against the stream of social opinion. But the man was correct in saying that he intended to bring back the rule of law as an operative force. This is an incremental move towards pulling America back from the brink. While this author does not know if it will succeed, the fact that this action has taken place is most praiseworthy, and hopefully the start of a shift back to sanity.
The lives of all of us – from our children on up – are affected by what we do. If marijuana laws were enforced, we might not have kids getting sick, some dying, or academic failures or many other problems. While many people can say that we would have the same problems from anywhere else, and they would be right, it still remains our responsibility to do what is right to keep ourselves and those we love safe from harm.
Obama’s time was characterized by a modus operandi of radical self-centeredness, masquerading as “freedom.” But true freedom comes from doing what is right and true.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.