Tuesday was another busy day for Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He faced a series of questions from the House Judiciary Committee, most daunting of which were whether or not he lied under oath about contact with Russian officials during Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, as well as about the AT&T-Time Warner merger.
With these high-stake issues abounding, it might almost seem like a side note that Sessions was questioned about his policy on medical marijuana, especially given that he is currently being sued by five plaintiffs who claim that the Controlled Substance Act is unconstitutional.
As reported by Fortune, the plaintiffs in the suit are: The Cannabis Cultural Association (a non-profit marijuana advocacy group), 12-year-old Alexis Bortell (who treats her life-threatening seizures with CBD oil), 6-year-old Jagger Cotte (who uses medical marijuana to treat Leigh Syndrome), Marvin Washington (a former NFL linebacker and founder of MMJ company Isodiol Performance), and Jose Belen (an Iraq War veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder).
The Attorney General is a co-defendant in the case, along with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The Plaintiffs argue that the Controlled Substance Act, which classifies cannabis as a Schedule I drug, which means that legally at the federal level it has “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States” and a “high potential for abuse.”
For medical marijuana patients and providers who live in one of 29 states with legal MMJ programs, this creates a bit of a dilemma. Patients themselves should not, for the most part and for the time being, fear federal interference. In fact, the DEA announced earlier this month that it has no intention of prosecuting CBD users.
But there are many, many difficulties that impede the health treatment of medical marijuana patients. For example, though Bortell is basically free to use CBD oil in her home state, travelling is very difficult. Not only do many states not have legal medical marijuana programs, even crossing state lines from one legal cannabis state to another can be considered a violation of federal drug trafficking laws.
In addition, there are fears that under Jeff Sessions the Department of Justice could actually get more restrictive. Sessions has been pretty explicit about his negative feelings on legal cannabis and has even questioned whether states with legal marijuana programs are conducting themselves within the law.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons