Sean Spicer

Washington, DC: Congress Reauthorizes Protection For State Medical Marijuana Programs

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

State-sanctioned medical marijuana and industrial hemp programs are safe for now as Congress has approved spending legislation which the President has signed into law that reauthorizes language protecting those programs. But the President issued a signing statement expressing his personal opposition to the measure, saying that those provisions could interfere with his constitutional authority. Signing statements are often issued by presidents, but they do not carry the weight of law.

Section 537 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017, states that no federal funds may be appropriated to "prevent any [state] from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana." That language is now known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, passed in 2014.

State-sponsored hemp programs were also reauthorized, thanks to a similar amendment.

Both amendments will remain in effect until September 30, 2017; at that time members of Congress will once again need to either reauthorize the language or let the provisions expire.

Forty-six states presently acknowledge the therapeutic use of marijuana and various marijuana-derived products. Thirty states recognize hemp as an industrial crop.

U.S. Trump Reserves Right To Ignore Medical Marijuana Protections

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

President Trump signed his first major piece of legislation last Friday -- a $1 trillion spending bill that prevented a federal government shutdown -- but with his signature he included the reservation that he may ignore medical cannabis protections found in the bill.

“I will treat this provision consistently with my constitutional responsibility to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” President Trump wrote in his signing statement, according to a Summit Daily report.

Trump's statement has created confusion on how Trump is going to deal with marijuana. In one interview he said, “Legalized marijuana is always a very difficult question. For medicinal purposes and medical purposes, it’s fine.”

But since moving into the White House, he has seemed less open to the idea. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said there could be “greater enforcement” of federal cannabis laws.

Attorney general Jeff Sessions spoke out about cannabis in March, saying it is “only slightly less awful” than heroin. He also said that medical marijuana “had been hyped, maybe too much.”

However, Sessions suggested he would protect state’s rights to legalize medical marijuana.

Illinois: Democrats Demand Trump Clarify Stance On Medical Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

An Illinois state Democrat is asking the Trump administration for greater clarity on whether they will be opponents to state laws legalizing marijuana.

Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerich sent a letter to President Donald Trump Monday criticizing the administration for teasing a crackdown on states with legal marijuana but giving no follow-up details on their plans. The Chicago Tribune reports that the legal future for medical patients and businesses involved in the marijuana industry is uncertain due to the absence of an official position on both recreational and medical marijuana.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said during a press conference on February 23 that the Department of Justice is likely going to increase enforcement efforts of federal law.

“If the Trump administration seeks greater enforcement, then it should clearly define what this means so hard-working people in Illinois can make informed decisions,” Frerich said in the letter. “Vague statements undermining medical marijuana violate commonsense and only serve to hurt the people who have pursed this treatment as a last resort.”

Massachusetts: State Treasurer Seeks Clarity From Trump Administration On Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Massachusetts State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, who's in charge of implementing the new recreational marijuana law in the state, wrote Tuesday to Attorney General Jeff Sessions seeking guidance on federal enforcement of marijuana.

"In recent weeks, comments from the Trump Administration suggest that the [Department of Justice] may be considering a change [in enforcement]," Goldberg wrote to Sessions. "I would greatly appreciate your prompt response to clarify whether this is true — and if so, what changes we should prepare for before we commit significant public resources to implementing Massachusetts' recreational marijuana laws."

In a briefing last month, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said he believes "you'll see greater enforcement of [recreational marijuana]," drawing a distinction between medical and recreational cannabis.

State Attorney General Maura Healey said the Justice Department is sending "mixed messages" around marijuana policy.

"I certainly would like to get some clarity and some certainty on that, and that's just one example of an area where we need more information," she said in a Herald Radio interview on Monday.

Virginia: Republican Representative Introduces Bill To End Federal Marijuana Prohibition

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A Republican representative from Virginia introduced legislation this week to end the federal prohibition of marijuana, allowing states to form marijuana policies on their own.

The bill would remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act but would not legalize the sale and use of marijuana in all 50 states. It would only allow states to make their own laws without the possibility of federal interference.

“Virginia is more than capable of handling its own marijuana policy, as are states such as Colorado or California,” Rep. Thomas Garrett (R) said in a statement. Virginia presently does not allow medical or recreational marijuana use.

The bill specifies that transporting marijuana into states where it is not legal would still be considered a federal crime.

“This step allows states to determine appropriate medicinal use and allows for industrial hemp growth, something that will provide a major economic boost to agricultural development in Southside Virginia,” he continued in the statement.

Washington, DC: Attorney General Jeff Sessions Warns Of An America With 'Marijuana Sold At Every Corner Grocery Store'

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Attorney General Jeff Sessions warned Tuesday that easing access to marijuana could lead to local markets selling the drug.

Speaking to a group of attorneys at the National Association of Attorneys General Winter Meeting, he said, “States can pass whatever laws they choose. But I’m not sure we’re going to be a better, healthier nation if we have marijuana being sold at every corner grocery store.”

Sessions went on to criticize a column published by Sam Kamin in the Washington Post Tuesday. Kamin, a professor of marijuana law and policy at the University of Denver, argues in the column that the opioid crisis is “a reason to expand access to marijuana rather than to contract it.” A study from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in 2016 found “adverse consequences of opioid use” gradually decreased in states where marijuana had been legalized as individuals switched from opioids to marijuana for pain relief.

“Give me a break,” Sessions said. “This is the kind of argument that has been out there. [It’s] almost a desperate attempt to defend the harmlessness of marijuana or even benefits. I doubt that’s true. Maybe science will prove me wrong. ... My best view is that we don’t need to be legalizing marijuana.”

U.S.: Marijuana Lobbyists Denounce White House Attack On Legalized Recreational Pot

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, issued a statement denouncing the White House's attack on recreational marijuana in response to Press Secretary Sean Spicer's comments to reporters regarding the Trump administration's marijuana policy in yesterday's press briefing.

“It would be a mistake for the Department of Justice to overthrow the will of the voters and state governments who have created carefully regulated adult-use marijuana programs,” Aaron Smith said. “It would represent a rejection of the values of economic growth, limited government, and respect for federalism that Republicans claim to embrace.

“These programs are working. Marijuana interdictions at the Mexican border are down substantially, youth use has not increased in states with legal access to cannabis, and responsible cannabis businesses are contributing tens of thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic impact to their communities.

“The American people overwhelmingly support this approach. National polls show that 60% of Americans believe that marijuana should be legal for adult use. Furthermore, 71% of Americans – including majorities in both parties and every age group – oppose the federal government cracking down on these voter-supported programs.

California: Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom Asks Trump To Cooperate With State On Marijuana Regulation

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom sent a letter to President Trump on Friday asking him to not increase federal enforcement of laws against recreational marijuana use.

The letter was copied to Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions, and follows yesterday's comments made by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who told reporters, "I do believe that you'll see greater enforcement” against recreational-use marijuana.

“The war on marijuana has failed,” Newsom wrote in the letter. “It did not, and will not, keep marijuana out of kids’ hands.”

“The government must not strip the legal and publicly supported industry of its business and hand it back to drug cartels and criminals,” Newsom wrote to Trump. “Dealers don’t card kids. I urge you and your administration to work in partnership with California and the other eight states that have legalized recreational marijuana for adult use in a way that will let us enforce our state laws that protect the public and our children, while targeting the bad actors.”

Newsom was a leading supporter of Proposition 64, approved by voters last November, which made recreational marijuana use legal in California for adults 21 and over. The state plans to begin issuing licenses to growers and sellers early next year.

Newsom also had an issue with comments made by Spicer linking marijuana use to opioids.

Washington, DC: Spicer Says Expect To See 'Greater Enforcement' On Recreational Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Thursday that states should expect to see greater federal enforcement of laws against the use of marijuana for recreational purposes.

While taking questions from reporters at the daily briefing, Spicer was asked if the government would take action on recreational marijuana use. Spicer replied: "Well I think that's a question for the Department of Justice. I do believe you'll see greater enforcement of it. Because again there's a big difference between the medical use ... that's very different than the recreational use, which is something the Department of Justice will be further looking into."

President Donald Trump “understands the pain and suffering that many people go through who are facing especially terminal diseases, and the comfort that some of these drugs, including medical marijuana, can bring to them,” he said, also noting previous action by Congress not to fund the Justice Department “go[ing] after those folks.”

As for “recreational marijuana, that’s a very, very different subject,” Spicer said.

Ignoring recent studies which suggest marijuana can help ease the opioid addiction crisis affecting some areas, Spicer went on to actually connect marijuana to the opioid crisis.

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