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Tag: marijuana

Senate Confirms John Demers to Head DOJ’s National Security Division

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The Senate on Thursday confirmed John Demers to head the Justice Department’s national security division after a Republican senator lifted a hold on his confirmation over a dispute on marijuana.

Demers, an attorney for Boeing and former member of the Justice Department’s national security division team, is set to become assistant attorney general for national security.

“John Demers was on the leadership team at the creation of the National Security Division, which today plays a crucial role in protecting Americans from the threat of terrorism,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.

“I am grateful to the Senate for confirming John and I look forward to his return to the department, where his significant experience in both the private sector and public service will most certainly benefit the American people.”

The confirmation was made possible after Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado lifted a hold on the nomination over a dispute with Sessions’ zealous crackdown on marijuana, even in states that legalized pot.

“I have decided to lift my holds on the Assistant Attorney General for National Security, United States Attorneys, and United States Marshals as an act of good faith,” Gardner said in a statement. “My holds on all other DOJ nominees will remain in place as discussions continue.”

Other Stories of Interest

Sessions Lashes Out at GOP Senator Over Marijuana Policy Dispute

AG Jeff Sessions testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has compared marijuana to heroin, blamed pot for spikes in violence and declared that “good people don’t smoke it,” lashed out at a senator from Colorado over a controversial pot policy.

“Too often, we’ve seen bad judgements, even politics enter into the work that we do,” Sessions said in a speech at a National Sheriffs’ Association meeting, according to Forbes. “We’re trying to confirm a number of important component heads at the Department of Justice.  It’s just getting to be frustrating, I’ve gotta tell you. Our nominee to the National Security Division — the anti-terrorism division — was approved unanimously in the committee. But because right now one senator’s concerns over unrelated issues — like reversing federal law against marijuana — we can’t even get a vote.”

Sessions was referring to Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican who has prevented the attorney general’s Justice Department nominees from being confirmed as part of a protest over Sessions’ decision to revoke an Obama-era policy that encouraged federal prosecutors to respect state laws on marijuana. Marijuana is still illegal on the federal level because the government stopped funding research to determine whether cannabis has medicinal benefits. 

Gardner said he voted to confirm Sessions’ nomination as attorney general because the former senator pledged not to make marijuana a major issue for the Justice Department.

“I have not changed my decision to hold these nominations until we have a commitment that lives up to what I believe was given to me prior to the confirmation,” Gardner said.

Other Stories of Interest

Ganja or Guns? Sessions’ Crusade Against Marijuana Imperils Firearm Ownership

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ zealous opposition to marijuana has placed the gun-loving Trump administration in the crosshairs of many firearm supporters. 

When Sessions gave federal prosecutors the green light two weeks ago to crack down on marijuana in states that have legalized it for medicinal or recreation use, he placed gun owners in a serious bind: Federal law prohibits the sale of firearms to anyone suspected of using cannabis or any other other controlled substance.

Although marijuana is illegal on the federal level, 29 states have legalized cannabis in some form.

Under President Obama, U.S. attorneys acted in accordance with each state’s marijuana laws, largely disregarding the federal ban.

But Sessions, who has compared marijuana to heroin, blamed pot for spikes in violence and declared that “good people don’t smoke it,” has opened the door for federal law enforcement to bar marijuana users from buying guns.

“There are no exceptions in federal law for marijuana purportedly used for medicinal purposes, even if such use is sanctioned by state law,” ATF spokeswoman Cherie R. Duvall-Jones told the Philadelphia Inquirer

That means many pot smokers may have to choose between ganja or guns.

In Pennsylvania, which plans to roll out its medicinal marijuana program early this year, health officials announced Friday they will no longer provide the names of medical marijuana patients to law enforcement agencies.

The state also called for the federal government to reclassify marijuana so it’s legal on the national level. 

“Pennsylvania, and the other 28 states where medical marijuana is legal, need the federal government to recognize what voters and bipartisan legislatures across the nation have overwhelmingly called for, and that is that medical marijuana must be rescheduled as a Schedule II medication,” the Health Department statement read.

Legal Pot in Limbo After Sessions Invites Federal Crackdown

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has compared marijuana to heroin, blamed pot for spikes in violence and declared that “good people don’t smoke it,” just threw the blossoming  cannabis industry into chaos.

The longtime, zealous opponent of pot is rolling back Obama-era directives that discouraged federal prosecutors from busting growers and sellers in states where laws permit medicinal or recreational marijuana use.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

In a memo to U.S. attorneys Thursday, Sessions told U.S. attorneys they are once again permitted to pursue marijuana prosecutions in any state because federal law prohibits the possession and sale of pot.

“It is the mission of the Department of Justice to enforce the laws of the United States, and the previous issuance of guidance undermines the rule of law and the ability of our local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement partners to carry out this mission,” Sessions said in a statement. “Therefore, today’s memo on federal marijuana enforcement simply directs all U.S. Attorneys to use previously established prosecutorial principles that provide them all the necessary tools to disrupt criminal organizations, tackle the growing drug crisis, and thwart violent crime across our country.”

A total of 36 states have legalized marijuana for either medicinal or recreational use.

The impact of Sessions’ memo won’t be immediately clear because enforcement is up to the discretion of each federal prosecutor.

Drug Arrests Increase in 2016 Despite Rhetoric on Rehabilitation

Drugs and MoneyBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The war on drugs picked up steam last year. 

Drug arrests increased by 5.6% in the U.S. in 2016, even as local and federal governments began to call for less incarceration in favor of rehabilitation, according to new FBI data.

The number of arrests jumped from 1.488 million in 2015 to 1.573 million – or one arrest every 20 seconds.

The increase in arrests come despite many states legalizing medicinal or recreational marijuana.

The data does not break down the arrests by drug type.

Maine Legalized Marijuana Use, But Border Patrol in Maine to Continue Enforcing Federal Law

marijuana-istockBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Eight months after Maine residents voted to legalize marijuana, defiant Border Patrol agents say they will continue to enforce federal laws that ban the use of pot.

Chief Daniel Hiebert told The Portland Press Herald that Border Patrol agents will confiscate marijuana when they find it. He added that agents aren’t actively looking for the drug, though.

Hiebert maintains that enforcing federal marijuana laws will not distract agents from their focus on terrorism and human and drug trafficking.

Since 2012, Maine Border Patrol agents have confiscated about 720 pounds of marijuana. In the past, the federal government has declined to prosecute those cases.

Justice Department Stymies DEA’s Proposal to Grow More Marijuana for Research

marijuanainthemittenphotoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The DEA’s plans to allow more research of marijuana has been stymied by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has insisted pot is almost as dangerous as heroin.

The Justice Department has not allowed the DEA to move forward with proposals to grow more marijuana for research, the Washington Post reports. 

“They’re sitting on it,” said one law enforcement official familiar with the matter. “They just will not act on these things.”

Consequently, one senior DEA official said, “the Justice Department has effectively shut down this program to increase research registrations.’’

The standoff pits the DEA and Justice Department against each other on the value of researching marijuana to determine if it has medicinal benefits. Although more than two dozen states have approved the use of medicinal marijuana, the federal government still considers pot a schedule 1 drug.

AG Sessions’ Extreme Position on Marijuana Worries States That Legalized It

Photo by Steve Neavling.

Photo by Steve Neavling.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who said earlier this year that marijuana “is only slightly less awful” than heroin, has prompted concerns among states that have legalized marijuana use.

Despite a federal law banning marijuana use, eight states have approved marijuana for recreational use. Nearly 30 states have legalized medical marijuana.

In letters released last week, Sessions warned four governors that he had “serious concerns” about legalizing marijuana, the Los Angeles Times reports

The letters were vague enough that states aren’t sure whether Sessions plans to crack down on legalization. Sessions said he wanted to talk with governors about his concerns.

“The letters did appear to be a bit off base, and in several instances referred to the way things were but are no longer. But more importantly, the letters did not tell the states they lack the authority to sell marijuana,” Mason Tvert, a co-director of Colorado’s 2012 legal marijuana initiative, said.

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