NY Medical Marijuana Advocates Scrambling By Jeff Sessions’ Bold Move
Supporters of New York’s medical marijuana program are alarmed by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ move to enforce a federal law that prohibits sales of the drug.
Sessions has rescinded an Obama administration policy of not blocking states that legalize marijuana as long as state officials keep it from migrating to places where it remained outlawed and out of the hands of criminal gangs and children.
Sessions’ order issued earlier this week gives U.S. attorneys across the country freedom to prosecute marijuana offenses under federal law.
“This is an unprovoked attack on my patients for no good reason,” said Dr. Gerard Rodziewicz, a Fayetteville doctor treating 1,200 patients with medical marijuana.
He’s advising patients to complain to their representatives in Congress about the new policy.
New York’s medical marijuana program has about 39,000 patients. It is one of 29 states that have legalized medical marijuana.
Many of Rodziewicz’s patients are using medical marijuana instead of highly addictive opioid drugs like oxycodone to treat pain.
“Nobody is getting a buzz,” he said. “We have people coming off opioids and going back to work.”
He’s also prescribing medical marijuana to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Sessions has said marijuana is comparable to heroin and has blamed it for spikes in violence. “… good people don’t smoke marijuana,” Sessions said at a hearing in 2016.
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., criticized Sessions’ order.
“Parents should be able to give their sick kids the medicine they need without having to fear that they will be prosecuted,” she said in a statement. “Veterans should be able to come home from combat and use the medicine they need without having to fear they will be prosecuted.”
Sessions’ order will create confusion for states’ medical marijuana programs, according to Heather Trela of the Rockefeller Institute of Government, an Albany-based public policy think tank.
“For an industry that already has uncertainty due to federal law, this could potentially introduce more chaos to the mix,” she wrote in a blog post.