Marijuana in the mail, but it’s a political thing

by Sam Wood     


There has been lots of activity involving cannabis in the U.S. mail in recent weeks, but all of it has been legal.

Pennsylvania and New Jersey lawmakers have beseeched federal authorities to rethink their stance toward marijuana, firing off letters to President Trump, the U.S. Attorney’s office, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

The missives, with rare exceptions, have been greeted with stony silence.

On Jan. 25, a bipartisan collection of more 50 congressmen urged Trump to prevent Attorney General Jeff Sessions from rolling back protections of state marijuana programs. Earlier in January, Sessions rescinded the Cole memo, a Obama-era document that had been widely interpreted as telling U.S. Attorneys to not prosecute medical marijuana operations where they were protected by state laws.

All forms of marijuana are considered illegal by the federal government, though 41 states and the District of Columbia have minted laws that permit some forms of the plant and its derivatives.

In the letter to Trump, spearheaded by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) and Cory Gardner (R., Colo.), 54 U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives asked the president to honor his campaign promises to restrain federal prosecution.

“As a candidate you stated: ‘I really believe we should leave it up to the states’ and that ‘it’s got to be a state decision.’ We trust that you still hold this belief, and we request that you urge the Attorney General to reinstate the Cole Memorandum,” the letter read.

Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.), who has advocated for full federal legalization, signed the letter. A spokeswoman for Booker told the Inquirer and the Daily News on Friday that,  11 days later, the White House has not responded.

In another letter, the 26 members of the Philadelphia Delegation to Harrisburg fired off a request to the local offices of the DEA and the U.S. Attorney’s office, looking for reassurances that federal agencies wouldn’t crack down on Pennsylvania patients or providers.

Representatives for the agencies told the Inquirer and Daily News that they had received a letter from the delegation but declined further comment.

Pa. State Representative Maria P. Donatucci (D., Phila.) is chair of the delegation. She had hoped that the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District would pursue a policy similar to that outlined by U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of the state, David Freed, who has stated his office “had no intention of disrupting Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program or related financial transactions.”

The Pittsburgh-based U.S. Attorney for the Western District, Scott Brady, has stated said his office would “vigorously enforce federal law.”

Donatucci said she doesn’t want anything to derail the state’s medical marijuana program.

“It’s just ludicrous that we should be having this discussion and worrying about this,” she said. “But I really can’t imagine the federal government would do this to their citizens.”


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Pa. medical marijuana: Lawmakers urge feds to remove pot from controlled substances list


UPDATE: The Senate passed the resolution urging U.S. Congress to remove marijuana from the federal Schedule I controlled substances list on Feb. 6 with a 49-0 vote.

Days after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions re-declared the federal war on marijuana in January, a bipartisan group of Pennsylvania state senators issued a resolution urging U.S. Congress to remove marijuana from the Schedule I controlled substances list and “recognize the proven medical purposes of marijuana.”

Five Democrats and a Republican have sponsored the Senate resolution, which centers on a federal law that makes it illegal for marijuana users – even in sanctioned medical marijuana states – to own firearms.

Primary sponsor Anthony Williams, a Democrat representing Delaware and Philadelphia counties, states in the resolution that federal law criminalizing firearm possession by medical marijuana users in states where it is legal has created “contradictory legal standards.”

Williams contends that to legalize gun ownership for marijuana medical patients would create a double standard of protecting those patients from prosecution for possessing firearms.

Williams and his co-sponsors contend the most logical step would be for the federal government to remove marijuana from its Controlled Substances list and recognize it for the medical purposes it has.

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With Medical Marijuana Done, Supporters Eye Recreational Pot For Pennsylvania

By Tony Romeo

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) — Led by one of the state’s top elected officials, supporters are ramping up their push for legalizing recreational pot in Pennsylvania.

Governor Tom Wolf has been cool to the idea of legalizing recreational marijuana in Pennsylvania. But fellow Democrat Eugene DePasquale – the state auditor general – continues to beat the drums for it. He was the headliner at a recent rally for the cause at the state capitol. DePasquale cites the potential for new tax dollars and other benefits.

“2018 — this issue, like so many others, will play an important role in our elections all over Pennsylvania, and all over the United States,” he said. “And I say to you, hold your elected officials accountable.”



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Activist aim for legislation decriminalizing and legalizing marijuana in PA


HARRISBURG, P.A. — Residents, elected officials and national marijuana activists joined at the Capitol rotunda Tuesday morning to push for legislation decriminalizing and/or legalizing marijuana, statewide.

Proponents of lessening penalties for marijuana use and possession believe now that medical marijuana is legal in Pennsylvania, the time for further legislation is right.

“We are your friends, we are your family, we are your co-workers and your neighbors. We are good people who do not deserve to be arrested for making this simple choice,” said Jeff Riedy, Director of National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws in Lehigh Valley.

A handful of cities across the commonwealth, including Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Harrisburg, currently have ordinances in place lessening the penalty for possession of marijuana.

Activists want those lighter rules across the state.

“We need to stop arrests, we need to clear records, we need to offer pathways to legitimacy for our underground cannabis market today,” said Chris Goldstein with NORML Philadelphia.

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said the legalization of marijuana would bring the state a minimum of $200 million, per year, in new revenue.

“That’s money we could put back into our school system, not have to worry about jailing people. By the same token, help our economy grow because new businesses get created,” said DePasquale.

Speakers at the rally Tuesday morning were critical of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who issued a memo on January 4 directing U.S. Attorneys to enforce federal laws prohibiting the use and possession of marijuana.

“There is nothing the attorney general of the United States can do to force Pennsylvania to re-criminalize marijuana *should* it move forward and end the criminal stigma,” said Justin Strekal, National Political Director for NORML.

With medical marijuana now legal in the commonwealth, some elected officials believe it’s unfair to hold previous marijuana offenses against individuals.


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Murphy orders review of medical marijuana program

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Gov. Phil Murphy is ordering his administration to review New Jersey’s medical marijuana program, which he says has been stifled over the past eight years.

The Democrat signed an executive order on Tuesday. He says the program has been difficult to access and the state will not deny compassionate care to people any longer.

Murphy didn’t cite former Republican Gov. Chris Christie by name, but he faulted the previous administration for overseeing a program “in name only.”

Murphy says he’s asking state government to focus on expanding the medical marijuana program and proposing new rules or repealing those that hamper the program.

Read the full article HERE.