Jeff Sessions Is Now U.S. Attorney General – How Will His Position Affect Marijuana Policy?
Posted on February 20, 2017 by Jeffrey FeilerSince the Trump administration took office, we've received call after call wondering how the new administration will affect medical marijuana implementation in the State of Florida. As your Miami medical marijuana lawyer, I would like to share with you some insight and speculation on Senator Jeff Sessions appointment to Attorney General and what it will mean for medical marijuana legislation on a State and Federal level.
What Is the Trump Administrations' Position on Medical Marijuana
President Trump has made many statements about the marijuana industry, both during his political election campaign and in the past few decades as a businessman. He has expressed a consistent stance that is pro-medical marijuana, and medical marijuana legalization aligns with his desire to improve the economy. The marijuana industry brings in hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue to the United States, and it's in his best interest to keep that tax revenue coming in if he is going to fulfill his promises about improving the economy.
Given that President Trump has taken a pro-medical marijuana stance, will newly elected Attorney General Jeff Sessions support this position?
What Role Does the Attorney General Have for Medical Marijuana?
The Attorney General is considered the chief law enforcement officer and the chief lawyer of the United States. As 84th Attorney General, Jeff Sessions will serve as a member of President Trump's Cabinet. The Senate has confirmed Senator Sessions' appointment and consequently he is officially the Attorney General for the current administration.
The Attorney General's job is to provide legal counsel, interpret laws, head federal jails and penal institutions, and examine alleged violations of federal laws. The position also includes representing the United States Government in the Supreme Court, supervising US Attorneys and Marshals, and various State and Federal obligations relating to Constitutionality of Legislation.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions' Stance on Medical Marijuana
In the past, Senator Sessions expressed an anti-marijuana legalization stance. He's referenced marijuana-related deaths, such as driving while intoxicated, and concerns that legalization will encourage other illegal drug usage. Naturally, his historic stance, even going so far as to describe him as an anti-marijuana crusader, has raised some concerns. He has stated that it is his job to enforce Federal Law and he will do so until Congress changes the Law. Of course, Congress has in place a "defunding" of the Department of Justice regarding States with Marijuana Laws. The question is whether Attorney General Sessions will himself obey that Law and whether he will respect the individual State's rights to govern their own citizens.
Will Attorney General Sessions Follow the Trump Administration?
Since the Trump Administration is pro-medical marijuana, what will Attorney General Sessions do?
Sessions has been asked about marijuana policy repeatedly during the confirmation. President Trump's spokesman, Sean Spicer, stated that Sessions, "will follow the President's lead and respect States' rights on marijuana policy".
Spicer has followed that statement up with "When you come into the Trump administration, it's the Trump agenda you're implementing and not your own. I think Senator Sessions is well aware of that." (Marijuana Policy Project)
According to Fortune Magazine, Sessions fielded several questions about the Federal medical marijuana laws from US senators. His response was that an attempt to impose Federal laws on State marijuana markets would potentially strain federal resources.
Legislation Protecting Marijuana Legalization
In 2014, Congress passed a spending bill that prohibits the Justice Department from using Federal funding to investigate or prosecute State legalized marijuana programs. The Bill must be renewed yearly, so as long as Congress continues to renew it, the Department of Justice will not receive funding to pursue such cases. That being said, he appears to be swaying from his previously prohibitionist stance, and taking a moderate position. Hopefully this means he will continue to respect State laws and we will see more marijuana business, especially in the newly legalized State of Florida, in years to come.
For information on medical marijuana compliance in the state of Florida, contact Feiler Marijuana Law at (305) 662-5663.
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