By: Melissa Chapaska
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf recently penned a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions lambasting the Attorney General for his request to remove the congressional spending protection for state-legal medical marijuana businesses and patients.
Since 2014, Congress has included a prohibition in the annual budget prohibiting the United States’ Department of Justice from spending funds to interfere with states’ medical marijuana laws. As we discussed in our previous blog, this prohibition recently survived judicial scrutiny when the 9th Circuit decided in US v. McIntosh that this congressional spending restriction prohibits the Department of Justice from spending any funds to prosecute state-legal and state law-compliant medical marijuana businesses and patients.
While the Department of Justice did not appeal the McIntosh decision, it was recently reported United States Attorney General Sessions personally requested that Congress remove the bi-partisan congressional spending protection for state-legal medical marijuana businesses. Despite the Attorney General’s request, the congressional spending restriction was included in the most recently approved budget.
However, given the Attorney General’s disapproval of the spending restriction and President Trump’s failure to include the restriction in his first budget proposal, Governor Wolf’s letter is both timely and imperative, making clear that Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program will not go down without a fight.
In his letter responding to the Attorney General, Governor Wolf informed the Attorney General that Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana law “was the result of conversations with Republicans and Democrats and fierce advocacy from families of children who were stricken with terrible illness that could be helped by Medical Marijuana.” Governor Wolf also explained the “careful and deliberate steps” Pennsylvania is taking to implement its program, saying he was “disturbed” by the Attorney General’s call for repeal of the congressional protection.
Solidifying his commitment to Pennsylvania’s budding medical marijuana program, Governor Tom Wolf concluded with a warning to the Attorney General:
“If you seek to further disrupt our ability to establish a legal way to deliver relief of medical marijuana to our citizens, I will ask the Attorney General of Pennsylvania to take legal action to protect our residents and state sovereignty.”