Tags Posts tagged with "Jeff Sessions"

Jeff Sessions

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In a recent memo sent to the United States attorneys, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said a task force within the Justice Department will evaluate marijuana policy as part of a larger review of crime reduction and public safety. The Department’s Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety will “identify ways in which the federal government can more effectively combat illegal immigration and violent crime, such as gun crime, drug trafficking, and gang violence,” according to the memo issued Wednesday.

Sessions wrote that subcommittees of the larger task force will “undertake a review of existing policies in the areas of charging, sentencing, and marijuana to ensure consistency with the department’s overall strategy on reducing violent crime and with Administration goals and priorities.” In the memo, Sessions indicated that he has asked for recommendations by July 27. He has also directed the task force to hold a “National Summit on Crime Reduction and Public Safety” within the next 120 days.

Since taking on the role of Attorney General in January, Sessions has included marijuana in his speeches about cracking down on illegal drugs, saying, “experts are telling me there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think.” He has also been reluctant to draw a distinction between medical and recreational marijuana, noting he is “dubious” of medical marijuana. If the Justice Department is reviewing existing policies, that would presumably include the 2013 Cole memorandum.

Sessions has previously said that the Cole memorandum set up policies “about how cases should be selected in those states and what would be appropriate for federal prosecution, much of which I think is valid. I may have some different ideas myself in addition to that.” In an interview with conservative radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt on March 9, Sessions reiterated that “marijuana is against federal law, and that applies in states where they may have repealed their own anti-marijuana laws. So yes, we will enforce law in an appropriate way nationwide.” He did temper that statement with the warning that, “it’s not possible for the federal government, of course, to take over everything the local police used to do in a state that’s legalized it.”

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Federal law enforcement officials and Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department were investigating pending marijuana-related court cases in Colorado while the Attorney General was reminding America of how much he dislikes the idea of legalizing marijuana.

This recent news came from IBT’s David Sirota, who obtained an email exchange between one of Sessions’ people and Colorado officials. The one-page email is brief and is only an information request, but it is one of the first concrete signs of federal interest in state-level marijuana under the Trump era. Which means it is guaranteed to make marijuana industry types worried about a job-killing federal crackdown a little more nervous.

Through email, a Denver-based DEA agent asked a Colorado state prosecutor, “Are you able to provide me the state docket numbers for the following cases? Some of our intel people are trying to track down info regarding some of DEA’s better marijuana investigations for the new administration. Hopefully it will lead to some positive changes.”

As IBT noted, the exchange came about two weeks after White House press secretary Sean Spicer first raised the specter of “greater enforcement” around legal marijuana on February 23. The next several weeks were full of public sabre-rattling from Sessions, who sought counsel from the attorney general of nearby Oklahoma before comparing marijuana unfavorably to heroin.

The cases referenced by the DEA are ongoing prosecutions. These are situations in which the state of Colorado, where marijuana is legal, has identified illegal activity pertaining to marijuana. We don’t know what cases the DEA agent is asking about (Sirota and IBT do not say), but we suspect it stems from one of the many multi-agency raids from last year.

The DEA was a partner agency on at least a few of them, but all of them targeted illegal farming and interstate marijuana trafficking. Twenty more sites were raided by DEA agents working with local law enforcement in mid-March, 10 days after the email, but a DEA spokesman told the AP at the time that those raids were in the works for “months” and did not have anything to do with a Trump-era directive

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Cannabis shops and manufacturers have increasing concerns that the Trump Administration will enforce federal laws that restrict farming and selling the drug. This will reverse the president’s stance during his campaign and potentially overturn what has become a $7 billion industry. The worry was provoked by comments from White House spokesman Sean Spicer recently that the government would most likely boost its enforcement of drug laws.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated that he is “dubious” about the benefits of marijuana. He said, “Marijuana is against federal law, and that applies in states where they may have repealed their own anti-marijuana laws. So yes, we will enforce law in an appropriate way nationwide. It’s not possible for the federal government, of course, to take over everything the local police used to do in a state that’s legalized it. And I’m not in favor of legalization of marijuana. I think it’s a more dangerous drug than a lot of people realize.”

The comments have sparked worry with Chuck Smith, co-founder of Dixie Brands, a Denver-based company that manufactures topicals and edibles infused with THC, the active ingredient in cannabis. He founded the company in 2010 and now employs more than 100 people across Arizona, Colorado, California, and Nevada. Smith stated, “My concern right now for both the company and industry is just uncertainty. It’s hard to build an industry or a company when you don’t have clarity.”

The administration’s statements affected shares of Innovative Industrial Properties, which invests in cannabis-growing facilities and is one of the few publicly traded cannabis companies. Its stock price plummeted on the day of Spicer’s press conference and are down more than 13% since then. However, two other marijuana stocks, GW Pharmaceuticals and Cara Therapeutics, seem to have not been affected by the news.

Eight states now allow the use of cannabis recreationally, while more than two dozen states have legalized it for medical purposes. Twenty-one states have decriminalized cannabis. A recent Quinnipiac Poll found 71% of voters think the government should not restrict federal drug laws in states where marijuana is legal. Increasing acceptance has led to an jump in the market for cannabis in North America, with sales rising 34% to nearly $7 billion in 2016, according to Arcview Market Research. By 2021, the industry is likely to climb close to $22 billion.

Companies like Dixie Brands are charging that hike. The privately held company would not disclose current numbers, but in 2014 it was valued at $40 million. Smith said, “It’s hard for us to kind of go backwards. President Trump said he was going to allow this to be a state’s rights issue. We took him at his word.” Trump has sent mixed messages on cannabis. In the 1990s, he called for legalizing all drugs. On the campaign trail, he reiterated his support for medical cannabis and his deference to states to pass their own laws regulating the drug.

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Jeff_Sessions_Legal_Marijuana

“Wait did I read that correctly?” you’re probably asking yourself, right? Mr. Sessions has seemingly been the thorn in the side of the legal marijuana movement and he’s been a topic of great debate for days now. But there may be some shining light ahead to put a bit more ease to those looking at this industry and in their favor. Yes, worries about this “great shift” in federal enforcement in states where recreational legalization has been granted may be able to breathe a little easier right now.

There’s been an immense amount of angst and paranoia with regard to what some have understood as a government crackdown on recreational use. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has had private discussions with a few Republican senators saying that he doesn’t plan to stray away from the Obama-placed policy of granting states the ability to enact their own marijuana laws for their residents.

Sessions has been a strong force to be reckoned with after he ordered a review of the “hands-off” policy that President Barack Obama previously had. But apparently Mr. Sessions has had a bit of a change of heart and in private conversations, has assured senators before he was confirmed that he didn’t have too much consideration about drastically changing the enforcement laws; even though he’s not a fan of the drug’s use.

Here are a few quotes from these informed senators:

“Nothing at this point has changed,” said Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.)

“He told me he would have some respect for states’ right on these things. And so I’ll be very unhappy if the federal government decides to go into Colorado and Washington and all of these places. And that’s not the [what] my interpretation of my conversation with him was. That this wasn’t his intention.”

-Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky)

“We respectfully request that you uphold DOJ’s existing policy regarding states that have implemented strong and effective regulations for recreational use. It is critical that states continue to implement these laws.”

-Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) & Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)

“Do they really respect states’ rights? Then you should respect all of them, not just pick and choose the ones that you want to support or not. Many states have gone not only the path of Nevada of recreational marijuana but medical marijuana. How can you pick or choose one or another?”

-Sen Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nevada)

A group of bipartisan senators also had submitted a letter on Thursday that pushed for Sessions to keep the Obama-era policy intact in order to let states decide on how to implement recreational marijuana laws. Sen. Warren and Sen. Murkowski lead the effort; both of who are from states who’s already put legalized marijuana laws in place.

To date, 8 states and Washington, D.C. have laws in place that legalize marijuana for recreational use. Most senators who signed on the letter are from those states with Murkowski being the only Republican. The others include:

Sen. Patty Murray of Washington
Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon
Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon
Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington
Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts
Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada
Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey
Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado

The concern isn’t just among senators from those states but is an issue among many conservatives who are nervous about the GOP being selective about allowing the rights of states to supersede federal law.

“We’re concerned about some of the language that we’re hearing. And I think that conservatives who are for states’ rights ought to believe in states’ rights. I’m going to continue to advocate that the states should be left alone,” Paul said.

Sen. Gardner was even more direct with the opinion on Sessions’ comments, “He was talking about if there’s cartels involved in illegal operations, they’re going to crack down on that. That’s what everybody’s saying. I still haven’t heard Jeff Sessions say that. We obviously want to make sure we’re clear on what they’ve said.”

Despite the shake-up that Sessions almost single-handedly ignited with his comments about “not being a fan of expanded use of marijuana,” or how despite him being open to states passing laws that they choose, he made it a point to say, “it does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not,” senators like Murkowski seem unshaken. In fact Murkowski said that she wasn’t alarmed and is simply monitoring the DOJ closely, “It’s probably a little premature to try to predict what may or may not be coming out of the administration on this, so I think we just need to sit back and see.”

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Did Christmas come early for the cannabis industry?

Jeff Sessions lied under oath and should be forced to step down from the position of United States Attorney General…

Today, the Justice Department said that Sessions had two conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States during the presidential campaign.

This type of contact should not only require him to recuse himself from an investigation into Russian interference in the election.

Mislead Everyone at his Confirmation Hearing

During his confirmation hearing in January, Sessions did not disclose these communications when he was asked. Instead, he said he had not communicated with the Russians

At the confirmation hearing, Senator Al Franken asked Sessions about the allegations of contact between Russia and Trump aides during the 2016 election.

Sessions told Senator Franken that he was unaware of any contact.

In January, Senator Patrick Leahy, a Judiciary Committee Democrat, asked Sessions in a written questionnaire whether he had been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after election day.

Sessions said no.

Interacted with Russia’s Ambassador Weeks Prior to the Election

The Justice Department’s view of this matter is different.

Sessions had more than 25 conversations with foreign ambassadors while serving as a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee during the last year. He had two separate interactions with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during this time.

One of the visits was in September, less than two months before the election.

Lying Under Oath

Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi accused Sessions of lying under oath and demanded that he resign.

Sessions issued the following statement last night:

“I never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign. I have no idea what this allegation is about. It is false.”

This guy is clearly lying…

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Last week’s comments from Press Secretary Sean Spice about recreational cannabis raised eyebrows but they are nothing compared to what United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions said yesterday.

Sessions met with reports and said that experts told him about violence in the cannabis industry. These experts also said the potency levels are unhealthy. Sessions also implied that state-level legalization was leading to increased youth consumption.

Alternative Facts Distort the Truth

From Conway to Sessions, it is very tough to believe what you hear from the White House anymore. The number of alternative facts being reported from the White House is disheartening and yesterday’s comments by Sessions is a perfect example of it.

The Attorney General did not discuss the type of violence being reported by his experts, the government is the one of the main culprits responsible for any increase in violence (high cash business since these companies cannot use banks). The legalization of cannabis would lead to a significant decrease in violence since the only connection between the violence and cannabis is the one that exists on the black market. A regulated market would solve this problem very quickly.

Although we do acknowledge the fact that cannabis is more potent than it was 20-30 years ago, there is not any evidence in support of Sessions’ claim about higher potency being unhealthy.

When it comes to cannabis usage, specifically among youths, studies looking at consumption trends in legal states have found the opposite to be true from what Sessions reported. The lack of a spike in youth consumption in Colorado is the main reason why the governor, John Hickenlooper is getting close to fully supporting recreational marijuana.

Hickenlooper said, “We didn’t see a spike in teenage use. If anything, it’s come down in the last year. And we’re getting anecdotal reports of less drug dealers.”

Show Your Support Today

Sessions said, “I’m definitely not a fan of expanded use of marijuana. States they can pass the laws they choose. I would just say it does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not.”

Based off Sessions comments, the United States cannabis industry is facing an imminent attack by the Federal government and support is needed now more than ever.

Change will only occur when there is enough support to drown out the naysayers. Reach out to your state’s governor. Contact your state representatives and senators as well as local officials and anyone who will file a complaint on your behalf.

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If U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions decides to enforce a devastating strike on legal cannabis states, industry leaders believe it would be disastrous to Colorado’s economic interest. During an interview with the Denver Channel, Kristi Kelly, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, said any decision by the Trump administration to launch a full-scale war against the legal marijuana industry would “cause a recession,” taking employment away from thousands of Colorado workers.

With the state now bringing in almost $1 billion a year in legal cannabis sales, she said federal interference would have catastrophic consequences. Kelly stated, “The economics of this are huge in Colorado. There is a billion-dollar economic impact in Colorado, which is directly attributable or affiliated with the cannabis industry, so that equates to 20,000 people licensed in trade.” Ever since President Trump announced that Alabama Senator Jeff Session was his pick for the next US attorney general, much of the marijuana industry has been greatly concerned. This worry recently heightened when the Republican-dominated Senate confirmed Sessions for the job. Our new attorney general has yet to say exactly what he plans to do in reference to legal marijuana.

During his confirmation hearing, Sessions told a Senate committee that he would “not commit to never enforcing federal law.” Some people interpreted his statement as not having any dangerous implications, while it led others to believe the entire scope of the cannabis movement was on the verge of being shut down. There are some psychoanalysts who predict the legal marijuana industry will grow into a $50 billion market within the next ten years, which is the reason some members of the legal cannabis scene believe they are untouchable. Tony Alfiere, president of Colorado cannabis extract company Quigley’s stated, “I fully expect Sessions to do the job he has accepted. The very idea that the attorney general of the United States of America would allow himself or be allowed to trample on the rules that govern our nation is laughable. Once this media hysteria dies down and the man is allowed to do his job, we will see the cannabis industry is here to stay.”

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Recently Jeff Sessions held his confirmation hearing, during which he was asked various types of questions from Senators. Some of those questions specifically dealt with the subject of marijuana. The nomination of Jeff Sessions for United States Attorney General has caused a great amount of risk in the marijuana world, both in America and overseas. President Donald Trump has made remarks in the past that he supports reform, but has also made comments contradicting what he previously said.

If you are an ‘actions speak louder than words’ person like me, then the nomination of Jeff Sessions likely scares you to your core. Jeff Sessions gave answers to the marijuana-related questions from his confirmation hearing. Those answers were neatly compiled and included in today’s ‘Tom Angell Report. The Tom Angell Report is jam packed with all types of marijuana information, whether it be local, state, national, or international news.

  • “While I am generally familiar with the Cole memorandum, I am not privy to any internal Department of Justice data regarding the effectiveness and value of the policies contained within that memorandum. I will certainly review and evaluate those policies, including the original justifications for the memorandum, as well as any relevant data and how circumstances may have changed or how they may change in the future.”

    “I will not commit to never enforcing Federal law. Whether an arrest and investigation of an individual who may be violating the law is appropriate is a determination made in individual cases based on the sometimes unique circumstances surrounding those cases, as well as the resources available at the time.”

    A new federal court ruling that a Congressional rider prevents the Justice Department from going after people complying with state medical marijuana laws “is relatively recent, and I am not familiar with how other courts may have interpreted the relevant appropriations language or the Ninth Circuit’s opinion. As an emerging issue, that is one that will need to be closely evaluated in light of all relevant law and facts. I will conduct such a review. Of course, medical marijuana use is a small part of the growing commercial marijuana industry.”

    Regarding “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” “My words have been grossly mischaracterized and taken out of context. I was discussing the value of treating people for using dangerous and illegal drugs like marijuana, and the context in which treatment is successful.”

    “I echo Attorney General Lynch’s comments [on marijuana being illegal], and commit, as she did, to enforcing federal law with respect to marijuana, although the exact balance of enforcement priorities is an ever-changing determination based on the circumstances and the resources available at the time.”

    “I will defer to the American Medical Association and the researchers at the National Institutes of Health and elsewhere about the medical effects of marijuana. Without having studied the relevant regulations in depth, I cannot say whether they may need to be eased in order to advance research; but, I will review this.”

    The Judiciary Committee is scheduled to recognize Sessions’ nomination but Democrats have hinted they will try to set back the vote.

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If the American people are concerned with Republican Senator Jeff Sessions’ approach to implementing federal cannabis laws, he says Congress should adjust them. Sessions, who President-elect Donald Trump has chosen to become U.S. attorney general, answered questions on cannabis among other issues during his confirmation hearing on Tuesday. Sessions did not offer a clear stance on what cannabis enforcement would look like under his justice department. Sessions stated, “I won’t commit to never enforcing federal law, but absolutely it’s a problem of resources for the federal government. Good judgement on how to handle these cases will be a responsibility of mine, which won’t be an easy decision, but I will try to do my duty in a fair and just way.”

Even though 28 states have made medical cannabis legal and eight states have passed recreational laws, the federal law still classifies marijuana as an illegal substance. The drug is classified as a Schedule I drug along with heroin. In the past, Sessions has made it clear he is against the legalization of marijuana. He said, “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.” However, in a Trump presidency, he would be asked to follow the Trump agenda and not his own. This gives the cannabis industry hope.

Almost 60% of Americans support the legalization of cannabis in the United States. The seven states that voted to legalize medical or recreational use are looking to take steps toward legalization. “It’s not so much the attorney general’s job to decide what laws to enforce. We should do our jobs and enforce laws effectively as we’re able. The U.S. Congress made the possession of marijuana in every state, and the distribution, an illegal act. If that’s something that’s not desired any longer, Congress should pass a law to change the rule,” Sessions said during his hearing.

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On Election Day, residents of California made their vote to become the world’s biggest legal marijuana market, along with seven more states who also voted yes on recreational or medical pot. Originally, President-elect Donald Trump’s shocking victory didn’t seem to pose an immediate threat to the legal pot industry; Trump isn’t popular in the cannabis world, but he’s not seen as a committed prohibitionist either.

At a post-election industry conference in Vegas, the largest controversy involved a nearly naked model covered in cold cuts. That outlook changed after Trump picked Sen. Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican, as his nominee for attorney general. While many conservatives have relaxed their outlook on both marijuana and criminal penalties for drug offenses, Sessions evidently has not.

“We need grown-ups in charge in Washington saying marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized,” he said at a hearing in April.

“It is, in fact, a very real danger.” To liberals, the Sessions nomination is, as the New York Times editorialized, “An insult to justice.” Sessions had been rejected for a federal judgeship in 1986 due to concerns that he’s a racist.

His nomination in 2016 to the far more powerful position of attorney general raised an immediate outcry from, among others, those concerned with the treatment of undocumented immigrants, the rights of LGBTQ and Muslim Americans, and supporters of criminal justice reform and police accountability. The legal marijuana industry, which is anticipated to top $6 billion in sales this year, also has reason to fear Sessions, but its response has been much more muted.

The National Cannabis Industry Association, the industry’s largest lobby, released a statement saying that it looked forward to working with Attorney General Sessions. They think it’s safer to weather his tenure at the Justice Department than to fight it.

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