US Attorneys Urged to Prosecute Against Marijuana

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immigration marijuana

vermont marijuana As of January 4, 2018, federal prosecutors were ordered to assert power over state marijuana legalization laws and activities.  The command came through a simple memo from Attorney General Jeff Sessions where he, according to a release from the United States Department of Justice, directed  “all U.S. Attorneys to enforce the laws enacted by Congress , and to follow well-established principles when pursuing prosecutions related to marijuana activities.”  

A few days after the United States Department of Justice put out their release about the memo from Jeff Sessions, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott stated publicly that he is committed to signing the first bill to legalize recreational marijuana via state legislation.  Up until now, states have been legalizing the herb via ballot initiative and the federal government has seemed to turn a blind eye.

The truth is that prior to this memo, the federal government has not been actively prosecuting states for allowing marijuana to be used in any way, shape, or form.  This is interesting, because the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), a controversial law that has been in place since 1970 under Nixon, lists marijuana as a Schedule I drug and counts it among the most dangerous drugs of all.  Session’s action here is an effort to tighten the reins on marijuana, an act that is in alignment with Nixon, who said that this law is an effort to win the “war on drugs.”

As state and federal government duke this out, immigrants are advised to be especially careful about marijuana use during these times because federal law controls immigration.  In fact, many argue that there could be an insidious link between marijuana laws and immigration because outlawing the drug provides an excuse to search, detain, and deport immigrants. If you are pulled over by police and experience any issues, it’s important to know your rights. You can learn more about that here.

Supremacy Clause

The Supremacy Clause, and its “doctrine of preemption”, is a powerful law that commands the power of the federal government over state governance.  When state laws conflict with federal laws, the federal government wins the case.  With Sessions commanding prosecutors to strike down against marijuana activities and return to rule of law, there is a movement to overturn the legalization that was determined by the state.  According to the DEA (established by Nixon), marijuana is a Schedule I drug, so it is too dangerous to even prescribe.  There are many arguments that this classification is rash and unjustified.  

Benefits of Marijuana Continue to Show Up in Studies

In January 2017, The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine developed a comprehensive, in-depth review of the health benefits of cannabis and cannabinoids.  It was confirmed that they help reduce pain symptoms, help relieve chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and may also have an anti-inflammatory effect.  They also suggested that certain patient populations were able to discontinue dangerous prescription drugs due to legal access to cannabis.  

Furthermore, recent international and domestic studies have revealed that cannabis has other health benefits when used properly.  Some of these results have shown that it can potentially help to significantly to reduce the risk of stroke.  Studies also show that it can help control epileptic seizures.  In studies of this herb that has been regarded as a healing herb until it was outlawed in 1937, scientists are studying every element of this plant as well as every method of use, and they are also learning how it responds to various brain receptors with a goal to determine optimum benefits and aid regulation.  

Yes, some negative side effects were also mentioned.  However, they were not unlike side effects that are listed for legal pharmaceutical drugs, some of which are quite scary.  One of the most prescribed medications, Prednisone or Cortisone, has been proven to potentially encourage high blood pressure, thin bones and skin, and suppress adrenal gland hormone production.  

In regards to mental disorders, there were mixed reviews regarding whether cannabis helps or contributes to them.  It is believed that further study is needed before anyone can make general assertions, one way or the other.  An important note is that the review did express concern about how marijuana can potentially negatively affect the cognitive development of a child.  It is worth noting that alcohol and tobacco are also not recommended for children.  The review offered ways to strengthen research and suggested that with better data, the drug could be regulated for safety.  

Significant Demand and Economic Growth

Finally, things could get interesting because of how much legalization has benefitted states economically.  Cannabis brought in a total of $6.7 billion in profits in 2016,  over a billion more than the year before.  It is certainly possible that some political and business figures may choose to engage in the nullification process with the federal government.  Governor Phil Scott’s signing of this new legislative bill will be joining eight other states—Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon, Nevada, Washington— that have legalized marijuana for recreation. 

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