Activists Offer Free Pot at Sessions Office
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Activists Offer Free Pot at Sessions Office
Posted by CN Staff on December 09, 2016 at 14:44:05 PT
By Steven Nelson, Staff Writer 
Source: U.S. News & World Report
Washington, D.C. -- Marijuana legalization activists returned to the office of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions on Thursday, successfully sneaking cannabis past a security checkpoint so they could offer it for use by the attorney general nominee or his staff.Sessions communications director Chris Jackson deftly handled the two dozen office visitors, listening politely to stories about medical use of the plant and arguments against prohibition, but he declined to accept a sample of the drug that is increasingly legalized or decriminalized at the state level but remains illegal in the eyes of federal authorities.
Although at least two activists brought weed, with one laying some on a table and another rolling a joint as he wore a hunk on his suit jacket, Jackson did not call U.S. Capitol Police, who can and do make arrests on federal charges for bring pot onto Capitol grounds.The permissive approach was welcomed by the activists, who recommended that Sessions commit to a similarly hands-off policy if he leads the Justice Department.“If you’re not going to arrest people in your own office who bring marijuana… why would you break down people’s doors as a federal policy?” D.C. Cannabis Campaign organizer Adam Eidinger asked.Sessions said in April it’s important to send a message that “good people don’t smoke marijuana” and as attorney general he would have the power to strictly enforce federal drug laws, which make pot possession for any reason outside limited research a crime.The nomination of Sessions is viewed with alarm by advocates worried that he would be able to swiftly crush regulated retail markets in the eight states whose residents have voted for such a system. More than half of states allow medical marijuana, but those programs appear for the moment protected by a federal spending amendment.Many of the participants in the Thursday protest -- the second in a series -- were part of the group that legalized personal possession of marijuana on non-federal land in the nation’s capital, but they were joined by an assortment of others, including Philadelphia activists Chris Goldstein and N.A. Poe, a stage name, who faced federal charges after committing civil disobedience near the Liberty Bell in 2013.Poe brought some of the marijuana to the office, hiding it in a sock before posing with it next to the senator’s nameplate and then offering it to Jackson. His well-dressed, joint-rolling counterpart, who uses the name Phone Homie, said he was a veteran and believed pot could be an alternative to legal but lethal opioids.At one point during the protest a police officer entered the crowded office lobby and asked to speak with Jackson outside. “Open a window!” a participant joked as pot quickly disappeared from view. It seemed like a good idea given the stench in the office, but the officer made no arrests and later thanked the activists for being quiet and orderly.One member of the pro-legalization crowd, medical marijuana user Arthur West of Washington state, was in town on a counter-intuitive mission: to torpedo the federal guidance that gave states a green light to unfurl regulated recreational markets.Two hours before joining the visit to Sessions’ office, West sat before a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit blocks away trying to invalidate the 2013 Cole Memo, which gave Colorado, Washington and other states a nod to allow recreational markets so long as certain enforcement triggers were not tripped.David Zionts, the attorney appointed to represent West in his appeal of a lower court's ruling on the lawsuit, said West observed an increase in marijuana use in a public park he frequents, and that therefore he suffered an injury caused directly by the memo that qualifies him to challenge its guidance, which he says was improperly issued without undergoing an environmental review process.The federal judges hearing the argument made it known that they had read news reports outlining Sessions’ anti-legalization views, which he could put into practice by withdrawing the Cole Memo (or vigorously pursuing its enforcement priorities) if he’s confirmed by the Senate.Judge David Tatel seemed skeptical of West’s arguments, noting Washington law does not allow public smoking of marijuana and that park-dwellers who smoke cannabis may be using it medically. He further pointed out that Washington’s Initiative 502 was enacted well before the Cole Memo outlined federal enforcement priorities.Zionts, however, likened passage of Initiative 502 in 2012 to the turning of the first of two keys necessary to active nuclear weapons. The second was the Cole Memo, he said.Judge Patricia Millett, who peppered both sides with questions, said withdrawal of the Cole Memo would not necessarily alter the Justice Department’s enforcement priorities, but after asking what would happen if the memo “were to disappear next month” was told by Zionts he would view it as a message to states the second nuclear code code switch had been turned off.West says that while counter-intuitive, his lawsuit seeks to ensure the path to legalization is steady and not subject to the whims of changing leadership at the Justice Department. He also opposes the specific language of the legalization measure in his state, which divided the activist community there. It's the only state legalization measure so far that does not allow for growing marijuana at home.“What I’d like to see if full legalization for everyone. What I really object to is a state-sponsored monopoly,” he says. “[Initiative 502] didn’t bring real legalization. I’m for real legalization.”There’s reason to believe the court and Sessions could keep the Cole Memo intact and that the Trump administration could still take a hammer to the budding multi-billion-dollar cannabis industry.In a report issued Tuesday, the Drug Enforcement Administration says state-legal marijuana markets have been infiltrated by drug-trafficking organizations that illegally smuggle pot across state lines, which if accurate could trip two key enforcement triggers in the Cole Memo.Mason Tvert, a leader of the Colorado legalization campaign and a spokesman for the national Marijuana Policy Project, said he found the DEA report biased and overlooking many benefits of legalization."It's based on an underlying assumption that there were no illegal marijuana operations before," he says, "Here's the thing: I used to know people who had large home cultivation operations. I don't anymore."Colorado's regulated market meets massive demand once satiated by the black market, Tvert says. To the extent there are export-oriented growers, he says, "it's the states that have opted not to legalize marijuana that are fueling this illegal activity."Andrew Freedman, Colorado’s director of marijuana coordination, tells U.S. News that he has not heard of actual infiltration of the license-holding industry in his state or in the other active recreational pot markets, which require seed to sale tracking.As part of a conversation about the DEA report, Freedman said Colorado officials would welcome a dialog with Sessions, who if confirmed would take charge of the Justice Department early next year, about the state's legalization experience,"There have been fewer short-term problems than we anticipated," he says. "[And] there are a lot of things that could happen that could really explode the black and gray market. If they overturned Amendment 64 and said we weren't allowed to enforce it, then suddenly home grows would rule the day and we'd actually have a much bigger problem."Steven Nelson is a reporter at U.S. News & World Report. Source: U.S. News & World Report (US)Author: Steven Nelson, Staff Writer  Published: December 8, 2016Copyright: 2016 U.S. News & World ReportWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #3 posted by Hope on December 09, 2016 at 22:28:18 PT
More about that meeting... an actual meeting.
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Comment #2 posted by Hope on December 09, 2016 at 22:04:06 PT
Very interesting.
American Legion Urges Trump Team to Reschedule Cannabis Jeff Sessions can't stop the marijuana train
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Comment #1 posted by HempWorld on December 09, 2016 at 15:17:18 PT
“good people don’t smoke marijuana”
That's Sessions message!Or is it:"Good People" drink themselves into a stupor, then vomit all over themselves (A), get in a car and crash (B) (run over a bunch of kids), beat up their wife or neighbor (C), drink themselves to death (D).Any questions?
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