THE NEW JERSEY CANNABUSINESS ASSOCIATION DENOUNCES AG JEFF SESSIONS’ SHIFT ON CANNABIS POLICY
Trenton, NJ, January 4, 2018 – The New Jersey CannaBusiness Association (NJCBA), the state’s leading business advocacy group for expanding access to medical cannabis and responsible adult-use of cannabis, denounces Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ policy shift.
“It is no surprise that a person who declared, ‘Good people don’t smoke marijuana’ and who also believes that cannabis is the same as heroin, would want to continue the Nixon-era’s failed War on Cannabis,” stated Scott Rudder, President of the NJCBA. “What is surprising is that this directly contradicts the desire and will of Congress and even President Trump’s own position, which is to leave cannabis laws up to individual states.”
Rudder continued, “As it stands today, this shift in policy will not result in an actual crack down. In a measure supported by Republican and Democratic members of Congress called the ‘Rohrabacher–Farr Amendment,’ the Justice Department is prohibited from spending funds to interfere with the implementation of state’s cannabis laws.”
According to Daniel McKilliop, an attorney with the New Jersey law firm Scarinic Hollenbeck, “The precise effects of this development remain to be seen, but it is likely that the Attorney General’s decision will result in continued and increased confusion about the legality of cannabis operations in the United States. However, the Rohrabacher-Farr federal spending amendment still prohibits the use of federal funds to interfere with state medical marijuana programs, and U.S. Representatives Tom McClintock and Jared Polis have introduced another spending amendment to provide the same protection with respect to adult-use cannabis programs.”
Specifically, the Rohrabacher–Farr Amendment states: “None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin, to prevent such States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”
Rudder believes this policy shift is politically motivated and will result in a backlash against AG Sessions.
“It is no coincidence that immediately after California, a liberal state, legalized cannabis for adult-use, AG Sessions decided to announce his change in policy,” said Rudder. “Despite Sessions’ maniacal fixation on cannabis, this policy shift will backfire on him sooner rather than later. The support for a legal and regulated cannabis industry is supported by the majority of the American people and has significant bi-partisan support in Washington, DC.”
Rudder believes the next step in this process will most likely be an injunction filed by those states that legalized cannabis to prevent the AG from violating current law and prevent an abuse of power.
“The Governors and Attorneys General from Colorado, Washington, California and other states have already declared they will fight any attempt by Jeff Sessions that would violate their states’ rights as well as the will of the voters,” continued Rudder. “Any further action on the part of the Justice Department that impacts the rights of these states will result in an injunction that will eventually take this issue all the way to the Supreme Court, unless Congress acts first. In either scenario, the medical value – as well as the fallacy of many of the anti-arguments – of cannabis will be recognized and states will continue to implement cannabis programs as they see fit and with the support of the voters.”
The reality of cannabis legalization is far different than that painted by AG Sessions and other detractors. For example, according the US Department of Health and Human Services, teenage use is at a 20-year low. Property values have gone up and a spotlight on mom and dad’s prescriptions have shown us the real gateway drug. Additionally, a recent study demonstrated that traffic fatalities have not been impacted by a state’s choice to legalize cannabis.
“On the one hand, the federal government’s own study shows teenage use of cannabis going down,” added Rudder. “And on the other hand, you have Jeff Sessions declaring the sky is falling. It’s bizarre. We are actually witnessing opioid overdoses dropping an average of 25% in states that have legalized cannabis and we know teenage use of cannabis is going down all while businesses, not drug dealers, are creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and generating billions in revenue. Jeff Sessions is on the wrong side of history and his actions are more damaging than cannabis itself could ever be.”
The New Jersey CannaBusiness Association’s mission is to promote jobs and growth in a sustainable and responsible cannabis industry. Starting with the pioneers in the medical cannabis market to the emerging players in the adult-use space, the NJCBA’s focus is to make certain that decision makers and regulators understand and respect the needs of the CannaBusiness community and that our community remain responsible corporate citizens. Scott Rudder is a former Republican state legislator, mayor, veteran and current government affairs executive. In addition to his government and political leadership roles, Scott led Business Development efforts for Lockheed Martin Corporation with a focus on energy systems and radar programs.