partlycloudy
Tuesday September 25th, 2018 7:00PM

Peake, others criticize Sessions' action on marijuana law breakers

By The Associated Press
When U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions green-lighted federal prosecutions of marijuana lawbreakers, the vast majority of U.S. states that allow some form of medical marijuana were unexpectedly placed at risk of a crackdown and are warily watching developments. 
 
Forty-six states including Sessions' home state of Alabama have legalized some form of medical marijuana in recent years, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Eight of those states also allow recreational marijuana. 
 
Among the guidance that Sessions rescinded was the so-called Ogden Memorandum of 2009 that instructed federal prosecutors not to pursue cases against medical marijuana patients and distributors who complied with state laws. 
 
``Previous nationwide guidance specific to marijuana enforcement is unnecessary and is rescinded, effective immediately,'' Sessions told the U.S. attorneys based in all 50 states in a letter Thursday. 
 
Georgia state Rep. Allen Peake, a Macon Republican who sponsored a bill in his state's legislature that legalized possession of medical marijuana in 2015, denounced the move. 
 
``I'm very disappointed in Jeff Session's actions,'' Peake said Friday in a telephone interview. ``He will be hurting the grandfather with Alzheimer's, the soccer mom with breast cancer, the college student with Crohn's disease, the young child with seizures these are the people that will be impacted by this action by the attorney general.'' 
 
The only legal protection now for medical marijuana growers, processors, sellers and users is a temporary measure sponsored by Republican California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher and Democratic Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer prohibiting the U.S. Department of Justice from using government funds to target them. 
 
Rohrabacher, in a conference call with reporters and four other members of Congress, said Sessions' move should galvanize national support for marijuana legalization. 
 
``This is a wake-up call for American people who believe in freedom,'' Rohrabacher said. ``It will mobilize people throughout the country.'' 
 
Many politicians, including Republicans, have cast Session's move as an infringement on states' rights. 
 
Only Idaho, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas do not allow any access to marijuana, said Karmen Hanson, a cannabis policy analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures. 
 
Twenty-nine states plus Washington, D.C., and the U.S. territories of Guam and Puerto Rico allow for comprehensive public medical marijuana programs. An additional 17 states allow use of marijuana products for medical reasons in limited situations or as a legal defense, she said. 
 
Many of the states that allow some form of medical marijuana with low THC marijuana's psychoactive compound did so in 2013 and 2014. About half of the initiatives that allowed medical marijuana were passed by voters in ballot measures and the rest by state legislatures, Hanson said. 
 
Georgia's General Assembly passed that state's medical marijuana law in 2015. Called Haleigh's Hope Act, it was named for a girl who was suffering from hundreds of seizures a day. 
 
``This means the world to us,'' Haleigh's mother, Janea Cox, told reporters when Georgia's governor signed the bill. 
 
Peake said Sessions' move will have a chilling effect on a bill he introduced that would allow the growing, processing and distribution of cannabis oil in Georgia. 
 
``This is as bipartisan an issue as you can get,'' he said. ``Cancer doesn't ask if you're a Republican or a Democrat. There are people of all races and creeds who benefit from medical cannabis, so that's why it's so crucial that Congress get together and take action.'' 
 
The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment that restricts U.S. attorneys from taking legal action against people who use medical marijuana or produce it was maintained in a last short-term funding bill passed by Congress. But that funding bill expires on Jan. 19. 
 
Blumenauer ``is working to make sure it's maintained again in whatever next funding bill Congress passes,'' said his spokeswoman, Nicole L'Esperance. 
 
Rohrabacher said a better, more permanent solution is a bill he submitted last year that amends the Controlled Substances Act so it doesn't apply to people who produce, possess or deliver marijuana in compliance with state marijuana laws. 
 
If it passes, Rohrabacher said he and Blumenauer would not be forced to repeatedly seek passage of their amendment annually. 
 
New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker has also introduced a bill to legalize marijuana at the federal level.
© Copyright 2018 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Peake, others criticize Sessions' action on marijuana law breakers
When U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions green-lighted federal prosecutions of marijuana lawbreakers, the vast majority of U.S. states that allow some form of medical marijuana were unexpectedly placed at risk of a crackdown and are warily watching developments.
8:07AM ( 9 minutes ago )
Georgia Trend: Two from Hall Co. among '100 Most Influential Georgians'
Two people from Hall County are on this year's Georgia Trend list of the "100 Most Influential Georgians."
6:00AM ( 2 hours ago )
Up to 16 horses die in east Hall County fire
"There were several houses that were nearby."
2:01AM ( 6 hours ago )
Local/State News
Luck of the draw helps Republicans hold Virginia House
A tied race that could determine the balance of power in the Virginia House of Delegates was settled when the Republican candidate's name was drawn from a ceramic bowl
8:33AM ( 23 hours ago )
Georgia politicians, officials score with free game tickets
Rose Bowl tickets were pricy and scarce for common football fans, but not for several Georgia politicians
8:32AM ( 23 hours ago )
Trump, GOP senators sound hopeful on immigration deal
Trump meets with Republican senators as he pushes his immigration overhaul plan
7:12PM ( 1 day ago )
Politics
Up to 16 horses die in east Hall County fire
"There were several houses that were nearby."
2:01AM ( 6 hours ago )
Area EMC's prepare for winter storm
With the region bracing for the potential of freezing rain Sunday night into Monday morning, EMCs in north Georgia are getting ready.
1:15AM ( 7 hours ago )
Father behind bars after death of infant daughter
A Forsyth County man is facing charges in connection to the death of his infant daughter, authorities said Friday.
9:50PM ( 10 hours ago )
USFS warning for would-be weekend hikers
Predictions of very cold wind chills, rain and freezing rain in far north Georgia have prompted the U.S. Forest Service to warn would-be weekend hikers to stay out of mountain forests Saturday and Sunday.
By AccessWDUN staff
6:04PM ( 14 hours ago )
Gainesville offers pay raises to police officers to stem departures
In an effort to hang on to certified police officers, the city of Gainesville has implemented a mid-year pay hike for all officers, with the exception of top management.
1:20PM ( 18 hours ago )