Attorney General Sessions just put every state with policies of legalized medical and recreational marijuana on high alert, escalating the failed, so-called “War on Drugs.” This means that millions more people in Hawai’i and across the country will be at risk of arrest and federal prosecution – for possessing, using, or selling marijuana – even though it is legal and in accordance with the statutes of their state.
Let’s be clear about who Sessions’ decision will hurt. More than eighty percent of veterans in the American Legion voted two months ago in favor of a resolution legalizing medical marijuana at the federal level. Veterans suffering from invisible wounds like Post-Traumatic Stress and chronic pain, or with addiction to opioids, deserve our commitment to researching every possible treatment to help them, and Sessions is failing them. States that have passed medical marijuana laws have seen a correlating drop in opioid-related deaths. I’ve met with parents of children with epilepsy, cancer, and other serious and chronic conditions, who are fighting for greater research and legal use of medical marijuana, and who have rallied behind my bill H.R. 1227, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act.
We all know that our criminal justice system is broken. Millions of people have been arrested for possession or use of marijuana, incarcerated without the means to make bail, and mired in a hopelessly backlogged court system that punishes non-violent offenders with felonies and years behind bars. Sessions’ decision will exacerbate an already inhumane, ineffective system that tears families apart.
We need common-sense criminal justice reform that reduces recidivism and the share of fellow Americans that we lock up. Sessions’ actions to protect the bottom lines of the for-profit private prison industry, and Big Pharma whose opioids and drugs flourish in part due to the marijuana prohibition, while trampling on states rights and turning everyday Americans into criminals, is the latest injustice that the Attorney General has suffered on the American people.
We must stop Sessions and fight this decision. I am calling on every member of Congress to take up the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act to remove marijuana from the list of federally controlled substances. Anything less compromises the safety and well-being of the people who need our protection the most.
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