AGRiMED Industries, a national medical cannabis organization dedicated to enriching

Green County, Pennsylvania (January 8, 2018)— AGRiMED Industries, a national medical cannabis organization dedicated to enriching the lives of patients stays committed to delivering medical cannabis to Pennsylvanians. The Current Political Climate for Medical Cannabis Legalization in the U.S. and potential impact on Pennsylvanians. While highly unfortunate and despite its repeatedly proven medicinal properties, the future of medical cannabis legalization in the United States and in Pennsylvania relies heavily on politics. While President Donald Trump never took a particularly strong stance on the matter, he is on record stating that he believes “medical [cannabis] should happen.” Despite this, he’s done little about it. Over 10,000 Pennsylvanians already have registered to be approved as medical marijuana patients.

Jeff Sessions and the Rohrabacher-Farr Act

The big twist for the future of legalization came when Trump named Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) the new attorney general. Sessions is known to be a huge anti-cannabis proponent, even having reached out to both republican and democratic members of Congress on the matter of the Rohrabacher-Farr Act this past May. The Act prohibits the federal government from spending any of its own money on prosecuting or interfering with state medical cannabis laws. Though it was introduced in 2001 and has been in law since 2014, it must be re-voted on every fiscal year in order to remain in effect. In short, this Act ensures the safety and autonomy of both medical cannabis patients as well as growers and distributors; simply, when put in effect, the DEA could no longer use federal funds to “bust” medical cannabis businesses and patients in states where it was legal.

As stated, this past May, Sessions reached out to members of Congress, stating that he doesn’t believe they should inhibit him from “particular prosecutions,” leaning back on the crutch of the U.S. being “in the midst of an historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime.” Basically, he wants to be able to prosecute medical cannabis users and providers despite its standing legality in respective states. January 4th, 2018, Mr. Sessions announced some additional statements. More on that later.

The Spread of Misinformation

Unfortunately, people like Attorney General Jeff Sessions are the precise problem with the negative stereotypes and perpetuations of medical cannabis. Perhaps his views are on par with others in ignoring scientific facts, but it’s ultimately extremely frustrating when realizing he holds a position of power and privilege in which millions of Americans are at his mercy; despite his ignorance on the matter, he holds a platform to speak on the issue, regardless of whether or not what he states is based in medical or scientific fact.

Sessions has been on record using traditional scare tactics—which are blatantly untrue—about medical cannabis. In a speech delivered in Richmond, VA on March 15, 2017 regarding combating violent crime, Sessions is recorded as stating:

“I realize this may be an unfashionable belief in a time of growing tolerance of drug use. But too many lives are at stake to worry about being fashionable. I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store. And I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana—so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that’s only slightly less awful. Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life.”

Obviously there are huge problems with these claims. He states that cannabis is inherently a “life-wrecking dependency,” comparable to heroin, so far from the truth it’s hard to choose where to start in refuting this claim. To name a few problems here, Sessions ignores the fact that cannabis is no more addictive than coffee, is a safer alternative to a lot of “drugs” on the market prescribed for common health issues, is not a threat to public safety, is not associated with violent behavior, and is far below the dangers of a substance like heroin or cocaine.

Even further, and possibly most problematic, is that Sessions completely ignores all the scientific data out there proving that cannabis legalization actually leads to lower opioid-related deaths. He is precisely correct in stating that there is a “heroin crisis”—there’s a huge opioid crisis all over the country—but he ignores important statistics in his attempt at fear mongering. As previously discussed in an article on AGRiMED’s website discussing the relationship between cannabis use and opioid addiction, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a finding that upon legalizing cannabis, states experienced a “24.8% lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate” as examined by Bachhuber et al. Beyond the statistic, it’s a known fact that opioids are inherently addictive—cannabis is not, constituting a far safer alternative to opioids.

Recent Developments

While many states have decriminalized or legalized recreational or medical marijuana use, the drug is technically illegal under federal law, creating a contention between federal and state law. Thursday’s announcement by Jeff Sessions is a troublesome decision for an attorney general who has regularly decried marijuana use as dangerous as heroine.

In a written memo Thursday January 4th, 2018, Sessions called the shift a “return to the rule of law” but he did not go as far as some advocates had feared he might, stopping short of explicitly directing more prosecutions, resources or other efforts to take down the industry as a whole.

“In deciding which marijuana activities to prosecute under these laws with the department’s finite resources, prosecutors should follow the well-established principles that govern all federal prosecutions,” Sessions said in a memo to all federal prosecutors. “These principles require federal prosecutors deciding which cases to prosecute to weigh all relevant considerations of the crime, the deterrent effect of criminal prosecution, and the cumulative impact of particular crimes on the community.”

In a harshly worded response to Sessions, Gov. Tom Wolf told the Attorney General, “We do not need the federal government getting in the way of Pennsylvania’s right to deliver them relief through our new medical marijuana program.” In a statement released Thursday afternoon, Wolf also said, “… I will not stand for backwards attacks on the progress made in Pennsylvania to provide medicine to those in need.”

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, who has proposed that the state permit recreational marijuana use, said in his own statement that Sessions “is stuck in the Dark Ages.” “He is using finite federal resources to fight a war against drugs that was lost decades ago,” said Depasquale, who like Wolf is a Democrat. “He showed just how clueless he really is by comparing marijuana to heroin.”

The MEDS Act

Until now, the severity of Sessions’ earlier statements have largely been glossed over by traditional media. For example, upon testifying about the Marijuana Effective Drug Study Act of 2017 (MEDS) this past October, Sessions spoke on wanting to limit this Act. The MEDS Act, as proposed by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), aims to increase and expand medical cannabis research in the U.S. However, Sessions has made repeated attempts at reasoning as to why such expansion should not occur. Despite this, headlines on the matter, such as Business Insider’s, ignore this, reading: “Jeff Sessions says it would be ‘healthy’ to have ‘more competition’ among medical marijuana growers for research.” The whole quote the title refers to actually read, “I think it would be healthy to have some more competition in the supply, but I’m sure we don’t need 26 new suppliers,” skirting around the fact that he isn’t totally on board with this movement while still appeasing those who are.

Where Is the Future of Legalization Headed?

Regardless of all that Attorney General Jeff Sessions may say and do regarding medical cannabis, some believe that if it came down to it, Trump would step in and interfere with his anti-medical cannabis stances. According to a statement in the Los Angeles Times, one of the namesakes of the Rohrabacher-Farr Act, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, “insists Trump would step in to protect medical pot if someone could get him to focus on what is going on.” While it’s worrisome that the President may not be aware or interested in these matters, Rohrabacher’s point that Sessions’ views on medical cannabis are “out of step” with the President’s provides a hope that should Sessions succeed in his war on cannabis, Trump may surprisingly just be the one to save the day.

While the future of medical cannabis hinges largely on the politicians in power, it is important to remember that everyone should remain up to date and educated on the matter. To facilitate education on medical cannabis, AGRiMED strives to stay up to date on news regarding the subject. At this time, AGRiMED is committed to creating, organic, natural, cannabis-based medicines for Pennsylvanians in 2018. To explore our content, visit the news page on our website or check out our social media @Agrimedi.

For additional information or to coordinate an interview with a representative at AGRiMED Industries, please call (413) 247-4633 or email info@AGRiMEDindustries.com

References

Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivers remarks on efforts to combat violent crime and restore public safety before federal, state and local law enforcement. The United States Department of Justice. Retrieved from https://www.justice.gov/opa/speech/attorney-general-jeff-sessions-delivers-remarks-efforts-combat-violent-crime-and-restore

Bachhuber, Marcus A. et al. (Oct. 2014). Medical cannabis laws and opioid analgesic overdose mortality in the United States, 1999-2010. The Journal of the American Medical Association174(10), 1668-1673. Retrieved from https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/1898878.

Halper, Evan (Oct. 2017). 29 states have legal pot. Jeff Sessions wants to stamp it out, and he’s closer than you think. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-congress-pot-20171007-story.html

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