Sessions to rescind Obama-era rules on non-interference with states where pot is legal

By Laura Jarrett, CNN Updated 10:07 AM ET, Thu January 4, 2018

sessions mj

(CNN)  In a seismic shift, Attorney General Jeff Sessions will announce Thursday that he is rescinding a trio of memos from the Obama administration that adopted a policy of non-interference with marijuana-friendly state laws, according to a source with knowledge of the decision.

While many states have decriminalized or legalized marijuana use, the drug is still illegal under federal law, creating a conflict between federal and state law.

Sessions: DOJ looking at 'rational' marijuana policy

Sessions: DOJ looking at ‘rational’ marijuana policy

The main Justice Department memo addressing the issue, known as the “Cole memo” for then-Deputy Attorney General Jim Cole in 2013, set forth new priorities for federal prosecutors operating in states where the drug had been legalized for medical or other adult use. It represented a major shift from strict enforcement to a more hands-off approach, so long as they didn’t threaten other federal priorities, such as preventing the distribution of the drug to minors and cartels.

    The memo will be rescinded but it’s not immediately clear whether Sessions will issue new guidance in its place or simply revert back to older policies that left states with legal uncertainty about enforcement of federal law.

    The decision had been closely watched since Sessions was sworn in. He told reporters in November he was examining a “rational” policy.

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    We the undersigned, Americans who join the millions of our fellow citizens who responsibly use the botanical plant kratom…

    CONTINUE OUR VIRTUAL
    MARCH ON WASHINGTON
    DAY TWO
    PLEASE CO-SIGN OUR
    OPEN LETTER TO ROBERT W. PATTERSON

    ACTING DIRECTOR, U.S. DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION

    Please Sign Letter Here

    Dear Administrator Patterson,
    We the undersigned, Americans who join the millions of our fellow citizens who responsibly use the botanical plant kratom as a part of our health and well-being regimens, join the American Kratom Association (AKA) in strongly urging the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to conduct a thorough and independent 8-Factor Analysis on kratom to test the credibility of the scheduling recommendation submitted by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
    In its enactment of the Controlled Substances Act, Congress has wisely required the DEA to do its own independent review on scheduling recommendations submitted by the FDA to provide a 2nd opinion on important substance scheduling issues.  That 2nd opinion is desperately needed in the evaluation of kratom because the science directly refutes the FDA claims.
    Specifically, we respectfully ask the DEA to carefully examine the following issues in its own 8-Factor Analysis on kratom:

    • Kratom is a safe botanical that does not kill people.  The deaths the FDA claims are caused by kratom are actually fatalities associated with underlying health issues of the decedent, or caused by the use of other toxic doses of substances that are co-administered or mixed with kratom. Kratom has a long history of safe use over centuries when responsibly consumed, and the FDA claims are simply unsupportable based on the science.
    • If kratom is banned, opioid deaths will increase.  The opioid crisis in America kills more than 90 people every day.  Credible studies show that many people manage pain using kratom as an alternative to dangerously addictive and potentially deadly prescription opioids.  If it is banned, those people will be forced to opioid use, or to the black market for products that are contaminated or adulterated, and therefore very dangerous.  The perverse public health outcome from any ban on kratom will result in more deaths.
    • Kratom is an alternative to opioids, not a gateway to opioid abuse.  Kratom does not produce a high like opioids; kratom does not suppress the respiratory system like opioids; and kratom does not produce opioid-like effects.  Kratom is safely and responsibly used by millions of Americans, including some for alleviating pain. Without kratom, many will be forced to opioid use to alleviate pain.
    • The AKA, and we agree, strongly supports appropriate FDA regulations to protect consumers.  Protecting consumers from adulterated and contaminated kratom products; assuring children cannot purchase or consume kratom; imposing good manufacturing standards to ensure product purity; product packaging standards to prevent tampering; and clear labeling and health claims restrictions similar to other dietary supplement products, are important roles for the FDA to have in protecting consumer safety, and we welcome such restrictions to ensure continued safe and responsible use of kratom products by consumers.

    The DEA has received an independent 8-Factor Analysis on kratom authored by one of the leading experts on addiction and substance safety, Jack Henningfield, Ph.D., and we believe that data will be critically important to the DEA’s own analysis of kratom.  In addition, there are four other key studies on kratom use that the DEA should consider that clearly demonstrate the harm that will be done by any scheduling order on kratom.
    Respectfully submitted,

    Please Sign Letter Here