Congress uses CARERS Act to stop Jeff Sessions War on Drugs.
Congress recently introduced the CARERS Act in response to the Attorney General. AG Jeff Sessions recently petitioned congress for additional funds to pursue medical and recreational cannabis users. His deep ties to the prison-industrial-complex have raised concerns. That Session’s attempts to target law-abiding citizens is an attempt to enrich himself at any cost.
Sessions is drowning in the Russia scandal and desperate to impress the first president to demand senators grovel publicly. He also recognizes the current president will likely take no action to stop him from shooting every pothead in the nation. The only real thing stopping Sessions from rolling out the nonexistent FEMA coffins is the funding.
The Attorney General claims that his efforts are an attempt to slow the opioid epidemic that professionals prescribed the nation into. But that seems unlikely given how effective cannabis is at treating opioid addiction. Additional concerns about Sessions long history of racial bias and overt discriminatory behavior drastically weaken his position.
The AG wants to reinvigorate a racial war but congress won’t fund it.
The long-running War on Drugs has produced drastically unequal outcomes across racial and social lines. One in three men of color between the age of 20 and 29 are currently in the criminal justice system. White populations use drugs as often as anyone else, they are 4 times less likely to be arrested for marijuana.
The effect of the war is targeted violence by the dominant group against smaller groups. Such acts are commonly known as racism. While individuals can claim they were “just following orders”, the denial rings as hollow and delusional. The Nuremburg Trials after WW2 established an international consensus about orders. They are not justification for committing acts of evil and terror.
Yet America is a country constantly at war with itself. It claims to be a free democracy and bastion of capitalism, it is anything but. The united states account for 5% of the global population yet account for over 25% of the world’s prisoners. But Sessions doesn’t believe that enough people are in overcrowded cages.
The Justice Department does a lot of good but there is also plenty of vile behavior that it protects. Black men are legally shot dead by police for following that officer’s orders. Homes get invaded and the residents are killed with surprising regularity. Generations of people grow up only knowing the inside of a cell.
Whole communities are ripped apart emotionally, physically and socially.
And it’s not just time behind bars that is the issue; arrests stay with a person, often for life. And the consequences of a criminal record are most dire for the poor. A conviction disqualifies anyone from many social safety nets. Public housing and student financial aid, employment opportunities, child custody determinations, and immigration status evaporate after a conviction.
These are systems overwhelmingly used by poor and minority populations. And it seems that the Justice Department willfully misunderstands basic facts. Sessions continues to refer to the “historic drug epidemic” in his letter but appears to conflate opioids with cannabis.
Despite his desperate pleas, congress told Sessions no.
A bipartisan group of U.S. senators introduced the bill. It allows state medical marijuana laws to supersede current federal prohibition of marijuana. The bill is called the CARERS Act, which stands for the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States Act.
Rep. Blumenauer said, “The people have been pretty clear that this is something they don’t want the federal government to interfere with.” The legislation allows the different laws legalizing medical marijuana in 30 states, and multiple territories including Washington D.C. to remain.
The CARERS bill submitted through congress but it failed. In 2015, it was the first medical marijuana bill ever introduced into the U.S. Senate. The latest version is better positioned to pass than the original which only had three sponsors. The newest version has six and includes names like Rand Paul, Lisa Murkowski and Al Franken.
Trump is the randomizer on this subject.
While running for president, Trump claimed marijuana laws are a state level issue. He then appointed Jeff Sessions to be his attorney general. Presidential support gives Sessions the daring to ask congress for permission to blow up a functioning portion of the economy.
Sessions sounded like a Hipster Hater when he said, “I believe it would be unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the Department to fund particular prosecutions, particularly in the midst of an historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime.” Especially after calling the KKK “OK, till I found out they smoked pot”. Sessions continued “The Department must be in a position to use all laws available to combat the transnational drug organizations and dangerous drug traffickers who threaten American lives.”
But the new bill’s proponents argue Sessions’ thinking is flawed. Cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD) have been clinically proven to reduce epilepsy and other seizures by up to 45%. Cannabis shows great promise in treating opioid addiction, cancer, mental disorders and many other conditions with minimal side effects.
The bipartisan commission understands the potential consequences.
“I dare him to sit down with families and listen to their stories and then pursue a policy like he’s advocating for now,” Booker says of Sessions’ letter. In addition, allowing states to set their own policies, the CARERS Act would take CBD off the controlled substances list.
The FDA and DEA only recently made CBD a controlled substance. If the decision were reversed, it would allow children to access life-saving medicine. It would be especially impactful in states where medical marijuana isn’t legal.
The bill’s sponsors know it will be difficult to correct the course of the Justice Department. They feel that their bill has the backing it needs to send a message to Sessions. That spending additional time and money pursuing medical marijuana is not OK.
The bill aims to remove current restrictions at Veterans Affairs hospitals.
The legislation removes penalties and procedures currently in place that silence doctors. It would essentially allow doctors to talk about and prescribe pot to their patients. The legislation also allows the nation’s veterans to access legal weed by removing the current restrictions. These policies bar doctors at Veterans Affairs hospitals from prescribing pot to their patients.
But it doesn’t approach the eight states that opted to legalize weed for recreational use. Many of the bill’s proponents promise that those efforts will come later. Washington State should keep an eye out for Sessions and his Hipster Haters. Sessions will eventually find a way around congressional roadblocks.