Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Benghazi Attack Is Finally Being Properly Prosecuted

On the night of June 15, 2014, eight Americans—six Delta Force operators, an F.B.I. agent, and an Arabic translator—travelled in rubber boats across the Mediterranean and arrived on a beach in Benghazi, Libya. They hustled across the sand and snuck into a nearby safe house. Their plan was to lure and capture Ahmed Abu Khatallah, the alleged ringleader of the most politicized terrorist attack since 9/11.

Twenty-one months earlier, on September 11, 2012, Khatallah had, according to federal prosecutors, coördinated the assault on the American Consulate in Benghazi. Two State Department officials, including the U.S. Ambassador, Christopher Stevens, died in that attack, and two C.I.A. contractors were killed in a subsequent firefight at a nearby C.I.A. facility.

A day after the eight-man team beached on the coast, one of Khatallah’s associates unwittingly led Khatallah to the safe house. As soon as Khatallah stepped into the dark villa, several soldiers pounced on him. He tried to kick, punch, and bite his way free, without success. The F.B.I. agent present—who has been identified in court by only a surname, “Johnson”—brought Khatallah into a bathroom, where he covered the suspect’s eyes, plugged his ears, and stuffed a bit into his mouth. The team then hustled Khatallah across the beach, boarded its boats, and raced toward the U.S.S. New York, a twenty-five-thousand-ton* amphibious transport dock made, in part, with steel recovered from the World Trade Center towers, and waiting offshore.

The Benghazi attack has been thoroughly scrutinized. The Republican-led House of Representatives spent millions of dollars and held hearing after hearing on the matter during President Barack Obama’s second term. But the lawmakers leading the hearings seemed more focussed on Hillary Clinton and her colleagues—trying to find any missteps they made before, during, or after the attack that could be used for political purposes—than on the alleged perpetrators of the violence itself.

Meanwhile, the hunt for Khatallah was being pursued by operators and analysts from the C.I.A., Joint Special Operations Command, and the F.B.I. One of the biggest questions for them was what to do with Khatallah once they found him. Counterterrorism officials considered a drone strike or a lethal raid, a former military official told me, but President Obama and the Justice Department wanted to capture him alive and bring him to the United States to stand trial.

This was not a straightforward task. American officials did not have sufficient confidence in the Libyan police to coördinate with them for Khatallah’s arrest. And the F.B.I. wasn’t in a position to pursue Khatallah on its own. Moreover, the intelligence on Khatallah suggested that he could prove difficult to capture—he supposedly carried around a grenade like an explosive cyanide pill.

Officials hatched a hybrid plan: F.B.I. agents would accompany one of the military’s élite manhunting units on the mission for Khatallah. The agents would be present throughout the operation to preserve evidence, so that they, as law-enforcement officials, could later testify in civilian court.

This was a fairly radical concept. Plenty of terrorists had been indicted and tried in American civilian courts, but Khatallah would be the first known case of someone captured through a military mission, Mirandized by law-enforcement officials, and then tried in open court, before a jury. John Walker Lindh, the so-called American Taliban, was captured by military and intelligence officers in Afghanistan and charged in civilian court, but he pleaded guilty before going to trial. More typically, terrorists targeted during military raids have been either killed; detained in U.S.-run military prisons, such as Abu Ghraib; handed over, in the case of Iraq or Afghanistan, to local police or intelligence agencies; or, in the years immediately after 9/11, sent to Guantánamo Bay. Osama bin Laden was indicted by a federal court in 1998, three years before the September 11th attacks. But when American Navy seals finally confronted him in Pakistan, in 2011, they shot and killed him.

Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have been vocal critics of trying terrorists in civilian courtrooms. Trump described Obama’s stated desire to close Guantánamo as a “terrible decision,” and Sessions has called the military tribunals at Guantánamo the “perfect place” for terrorism trials.

After his capture, Khatallah was interrogated first by military and intelligence officials. Then, after five days, a “clean team” of law-enforcement officials took over. Michael Clarke, an F.B.I. agent, read Khatallah his Miranda rights and told him that he was entitled to an attorney. Khatallah asked if there was a lawyer on board. There was not.

Speaking through a translator, Khatallah gave Clarke a lengthy statement over the course of the thirteen-day trip across the Atlantic Ocean. In D.C. district court, Khatallah’s current attorney, Eric L. Lewis, has argued that his client’s “slow boat” extradition was unnecessarily drawn out. “The capture of Mr. Abu Khatallah was a spectacular logistical operation . . . [but] a legal failure,” Lewis said at a June hearing. He wanted Khatallah’s statement thrown out. The judge, Christopher Cooper, ruled against him.

Yet Cooper has set some limits to the proceedings. In the run-up to Khatallah’s trial, which is scheduled to begin on Monday, the judge decided that prosecutors would be unable to admit evidence purporting that Khatallah once told an associate that he was intending to kill Stevens’s replacement, too. Allowing such evidence, Cooper said, would heighten “prejudicial risk” and “do little to illuminate the formation and contours” of the actual 2012 attack. It seems, at long last, that someone is intent on paying attention to what actually occurred in Benghazi.


I may disagree with Sessions on marijuana but we are on the same page here. The terrorists need to be held at Gitmo not in American jails.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Trouble brewing for the establishment

From Campaign For Liberty:

The Washington, D.C. media is warning that 2018 “spells trouble for the GOP establishment.”

Big Government U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) has already announced his retirement.

More retirements are rumored to be in the works.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been severely wounded politically after watching his handpicked establishment candidate go down to defeat in Alabama on Tuesday.

But the media still doesn’t get why the American people are angry?

The last time GOP leaders delivered an offensive domestic policy victory to its base was the tax cuts of 2003. Many voters can’t even remember one!

But every week, it seems the GOP establishment breaks a new promise.

I get the anger. And I share it!

The truth is, we should be angry.

We were promised our newly elected President and Congress would repeal ObamaCare “root and branch” -- not cook up one failed substitute after another.

We were promised Audit the Fed -- not more of the same as the Federal Reserve steers us off another financial cliff.

We were promised REAL, fundamental tax reform -- but Congress is looking to pass a plan that raises just as many taxes as it cuts!

We were promised fiscal responsibility and spending cuts -- not spending hikes that have sent our national debt soaring over $20 TRILLION.

We were promised things would be different this time!

We were told The Swamp’s days were numbered!

But the “Do-Nothing Congress” headed by scaredy-cat House Speaker Ryan and Senate Majority Leader McConnell has so far delivered. . .

Virtually nothing.

No matter how you slice it, 2016 was a LOUD-AND-CLEAR message from the American people that we’re FED UP with the status quo in Washington, D.C.!

Yet, The Swamp apparently thinks its “safe” to go back to their old games -- and you and I won’t notice!

It’s up to you and me to prove them WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.

That’s why I’m counting on you to sign your “KEEP YOUR PROMISES” Grassroots Directive to your Congressman and U.S. Senators TODAY!

And if you’d like, you can take advantage of the extra space I’ve left for you to write the message of your choosing.

I know it’s probably frustrating you and I even have to do this. . .

But it’s absolutely critical you voice your frustration today.

If we don’t, we could miss one of the best opportunities we’ve had in years to bring our country back from the brink.

But the good news is, after the entire political world was turned upside down in 2016, politicians in BOTH parties are still incredibly wary of the power of grassroots patriots like you.

They don’t trust national media “experts” who’ve done nothing but constantly make fools of themselves -- or party big-wigs who’ve accomplished nothing but record-low approval ratings.

They know that continuing to anger good folks like you could spell their political demise. . .

It’s time to show them you and I mean business.

It’s time to show them they can either KEEP THEIR PROMISES or find new jobs.

That’s exactly the message your Grassroots Directive is designed to deliver.

As you’ll see, it urges Members of Congress to KEEP THEIR PROMISES TO:

>>>REPEAL ObamaCare! For seven years, we’ve been told ObamaCare would be gone if the American people would give Republicans control of Congress. But instead they keep offering one compromise after another! This is flat-out UNNACCEPTABLE!

>>>Audit the Fed. You and I have spent the last several months gathering House cosponsors and even forcing a House hearing. Now, is the time for Speaker Ryan to bring the bill to the floor and pass it onto the Senate!

>>>Cut taxes. You should decide how the money you earn is spent. Not some bureaucrat in Washington, D.C. With tax reform on the move, many in BOTH parties are already attempting to water it down.

>>>Cut spending. The last debt ceiling deal with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer only punted the next fight until the end of the year. Instead of raising the debt ceiling again, it’s time for Congress to finally CUT SPENDING!

And as I mentioned, if you’d like, you can take advantage of the extra space I’ve left for you to write the message of your choosing.

The action of good folks like you can be THE difference if I can generate enough of a tidal wave of support.

But with all of these battles -- and the brewing fight over the possible expiration of FISA’s UNCONSTITUTIONAL Section 702, which allows all sorts of domestic surveillance on American citizens -- I hope you’ll consider a generous contribution today.

The more resources I can raise, the LOUDER our message will be in Washington, D.C.

There’s absolutely nothing I want more right now than to BREAK through the Big Government bubble and light a grassroots fire under this Congress.

But I’m counting on you to help Campaign for Liberty make it happen.

So in addition to signing your “KEEP YOUR PROMISES” Grassroots Directive, please be generous.

Even if all you can do right now is $10 or $20, it would make a tremendous difference.

But if you can afford more -- like $50, $100, $250, or $500 -- please give as much as you can.

The only way you and I don’t miss the opportunities we have in front of us today are if Members of Congress understand their days are numbered if they don’t deliver.

So please sign your “KEEP YOUR PROMISES” Grassroots Directive and agree to your most generous contribution at once!

For Liberty,

Ron Paul

P.S. The “Do-Nothing Congress” headed by scaredy-cat House Speaker Ryan and Senate Majority Leader McConnell has so far delivered . . . virtually nothing.

That’s why I’m counting on you to sign your “KEEP YOUR PROMISES” Grassroots Directive to your Congressman and U.S. Senators and agree to your most generous contribution of $10, $20, $50, $100, $250, or $500 TODAY!

And if you’d like, you can take advantage of the extra space I’ve left for you on your Grassroots Directive to write the message of your choosing.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Don't let Congress renew Section 702

From Fight For The Future:

Members of Congress are finally talking about ending the biggest mass surveillance law in the U.S. because—get this—they’re afraid that it could lead to compromising information about themselves being leaked.[1]

It’s ridiculous that that’s what it takes for them to care about upholding the Constitution, but this is a huge opportunity for us to beat back mass surveillance. As they go into negotiations this week and next, they need to hear from you.

Take action to stop Congress from renewing Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, one of the biggest mass surveillance law in the U.S.

Section 702 is at the core of the corrupt mass surveillance apparatus in the US. When it was passed, the government claimed it was for collecting information about terrorism suspects. Instead, it has been used to collect hundreds of millions of emails, phone calls, and text messages sent and received by ordinary people who aren’t suspected of anything.[2,3] Source Source

This is the law that lets the government collect your communications from companies like Google, Facebook, and Apple, and intercept private information straight from the cables and switches that make up the backbone of the Internet, without a warrant.[4]

The programs conducted under Section 702 are so broad that the NSA says they can't even count how many people are having their communications swept up. They’re so broad that even members of Congress feel violated by them.

It’s perfect timing for members of Congress to be thinking about their personal risks under mass surveillance because Section 702 is scheduled to sunset at the end of the year and congressional committees are working out a strategy to renew it as we speak.[5]

Both Democrats and Republicans have been raising concerns about having their information leaked, so there is real, bipartisan momentum building against 702. If we make our voices heard now, that could put them over the edge and solidify the sentiment that 702 has to go.

The New York Times recently reported that the committees deciding what to do about the expiration of Section 702 are close to a deal that would reauthorize it without fixing some of its biggest problems.[6] Congress needs to hear from us now, or we will miss this opportunity to score a victory that limits mass surveillance in a major way.

Private contractors like Booz Allen, Lockheed Martin, and Leidos have been getting rich from mass surveillance, and they are lobbying hard to make sure Section 702 is renewed. With these special interests involved, ending surveillance under Section 702 won’t be easy, even with members of Congress afraid of getting caught up in it.

This whole system of mass surveillance has been built and supported by corruption, and the only way to break the cycle of corruption is for regular people to speak out loudly. The intelligence contractors may have money and insider connections, but they don’t have the most important thing that politicians need—popular public support.

With Congress thinking about their own privacy under mass surveillance, this is the perfect moment for us to speak out and break the cycle of corruption.

Sign our petition to send Congress a message: Mass surveillance makes intelligence contractors rich without making us safer. It’s time to end this corruption.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Senator Al Franken sees the light

For the second time in as many days, U.S. Sen. Al Franken just added his name to a marijuana bill.

On Tuesday, the Democratic lawmaker from Minnesota became the fifth cosponsor of legislation to allow cannabis cultivators and sellers operating in accordance with state laws to be taxed just like any other business.

The day before, he signed onto a bill that would allow those businesses to access financial services from banks.

Earlier this month, the former Saturday Night Live star was one of six senators to introduce a broad bipartisan bill that would amend federal laws so states can enact and implement their own medical cannabis laws without federal interference.

The leadership on marijuana issues is a far cry from when Franken said on a BuzzFeed podcast last year (in response to a question I submitted) that he was "not the guy to ask" about cannabis policy.

In his answer then, he did acknowledge that he should probably study up on the issue because the state he represents is one of more than two dozen that allows medical marijuana. "I should know more," the senator said, jokingly adding, "or it's not important or somewhere in between."

A month later, Franken added his name to an earlier, now-expired version of the comprehensive medical marijuana bill that he is an original cosponsor of in the new 115th Congress. But he never did add his name to the 114th Congress's versions of the cannabis taxation and banking legislation.

Now, the senator is on a bit of a marijuana bill cosponsorship spree, and some observers think it's good politics -- in addition to good policy -- at a time when Franken's name is being floated as a possible 2020 presidential candidate.

"With clear public support in favor of outright legalization, presidential aspirants now recognize that marijuana reform is something that can no longer be ignored," Justin Strekal of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) said in an interview.

A Quinnipiac University poll released in April found that 60% of U.S. voters -- and 72% of Democrats -- support legalizing marijuana.

When it comes to medical cannabis, 94% of all voters and 96% of Democrats are on board. Just 13% of Democrats and 21% of voters overall want the federal government to interfere with state marijuana laws.

Other potential Democratic presidential candidates such as fellow Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts have increasingly taken on leadership roles in the fight for marijuana law reform.

Franken, who discussed his past marijuana, cocaine and LSD use in a book he published earlier this year, also joined four other senators in writing a July letter asking U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions not to go after state-legal industrial hemp growers.

But Strekal, of NORML, wants Franken to do even more, saying, until he "puts his name on a bill that outright deschedules cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, I remain uninspired."

In July, Booker filed legislation to do just that, and more. And in the last Congress, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a 2016 presidential candidate, filed cannabis descheduling legislation.


Don't Blunt the Marijuana Revolution

America is undergoing a somewhat silent revolution concerning the prohibition of marijuana usage.

A 2017 poll of 1,122 adults conducted by Marist found that only 14 percent of those surveyed still oppose medicinal marijuana, a number so overwhelming as to allow the suggestion a clear consensus exists among the American people.

On the issue of what is now called "recreational use," things are not as clear. The same poll found the nation divided "on whether they support or oppose the legalization of marijuana for recreational use, 49 percent to 47 percent."

A majority of parents, the survey said, oppose recreational use but, among those who have tried it at one time or another or who currently use it today, at 70 and 89 percent support respectively, the pro-legalization movement is gaining ground fast. Attitudes in the hinterlands are clearly changing.

The same can be said of Washington. During the 2016 campaign, President Donald Trump expressed more than once his belief the nation's marijuana laws needed to be reformed. California Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher and Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon have, on a bipartisan basis, fought for and won – at least for the moment – a prohibition on the use of taxpayer dollars by federal authorities to prosecute medical marijuana patients or providers who are in compliance with state-based medical marijuana laws.

Another effort by GOP Rep. Tom McClintock of California, which would bar federal prosecutions in states that have legalized recreational use, is for the moment stalled but, say those who follow the issue, is likely at some point to pass for no other reason than the ability of politicians to read polls – including the April 2017 Quinnipiac Poll showing 71 percent of those surveyed believed state law should take precedence over federal law where cannabis policy within the states is concerned.

The stumbling block in all this is United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who not only wants to enforce the laws already on the books but has advised the federal prosecutors under his jurisdiction he expects it to be done ruthlessly and with little regard for their discretion concerning what cases are to be brought into court.

Sessions is, clearly enough, behind the times. Nonetheless, he's still in the position to have things his way – or at least he was until Congress passed and the president signed legislation increasing the federal debt ceiling and for other purposes – because the U.S. Department of Justice has access to funds not appropriated for them by the Congress.

Under a program originally designed to bring large criminal enterprises dealing mostly in cash to heel, the Justice Department has expanded to the point of abuse civil asset forfeiture which, as the American Civil Liberties Union describes it, "allows police to seize – and then keep or sell – any property they allege is involved in a crime" without the person in possession of the property at the time it is seized being convicted of a crime or even arrested.

For the DOJ and for other federal agencies, this has become a revenue generator above and beyond funds appropriated to them by Congress. Cash, cars, even real estate has been taken permanently by the government on the basis of suspicion alone.

The courts may eventually rule civil asset forfeiture as it is currently practiced violates due process but, until they do, it creates a pile of money Sessions can use to have the DOJ pursue medical marijuana users despite what the Rohrabacher/Blumenauer or any other amendment to a piece of legislation may say.

That's the practical side, which on its own would be enough. There's also a basic Constitutional principle at stake – as a number of organizations set out in a Sept. 1 letter to the House Rules Committee requesting the Rohrabacher/Blumenauer amendment "be made in order as it has in past years."

"Under our Constitution states are granted broad police powers because the founders understood that states, not the federal government, would be on the front lines of protecting health, safety, and the general welfare," the groups, headed by the Competitive Enterprise Institute wrote. "As a nation of diverse populations and opinions, state legislatures and local law enforcement must be free to decide how best to use their limited resources to protect public safety, raise funds, and fight crime within their borders."

The heart of the matter, for them and for us, is the preservation of a system of government where federal powers are defined, narrowly, by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and the powers not given to it explicitly are left to the states. The Congress may have authorized and the executive branch may have approved of the war on drugs, broadly speaking, but this does not mean by fiat that the states much accept its decision in such matters. They have the power to make their own rules, applicable inside their individual borders only, that the federal government should respect – even when a conflict may exist.

This principle may seem esoteric, but is in fact vitally important, especially for advocates of limited government. It carries over into other areas running the gamut from Second Amendment rights to spending and tax policy. Sessions, even if his mind cannot be changed on the matter, owes it to us all to exercise more sensitivity to what the public wants, as expressed by the way they vote on the issue as well as the sentiments expressed in the Marist survey and other polls. The future of our democratic republic may rest on such things.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Trump is getting tired of Sessions

After President Donald Trump was informed in May that special counsel Robert Mueller had been appointed to oversee the Trump-Russia investigation, Trump unleashed a torrent of insults upon Attorney General Jeff Sessions and told him he should resign, The New York Times reported on Thursday.

Trump reportedly said he believed Mueller's appointment was Sessions' fault for recusing himself in March from the Russia investigation.

Current and former administration officials told the Times that Trump accused Sessions of "disloyalty," called him an "idiot," and said his appointment as attorney general was the worst decision Trump had ever made, leaving Sessions, in the words of the Times, "ashen and emotional."

Sessions later told associates that Trump's demeaning tone during the conversation was the most humiliating experience he's undergone in decades of public life, the Times reported.

The Oval Office conversation reportedly took place on May 17, after White House counsel Don McGahn was told in a phone call with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that Rosenstein had decided to appoint Mueller. McGahn then delivered the news to Trump, who immediately began raging at Sessions.

Yet after Sessions complied with Trump's demand and submitted a resignation letter, Trump eventually rejected it. Top advisers -- including Vice President Mike Pence, then-chief strategist Steve Bannon, and then-chief of staff Reince Priebus -- had reportedly convinced Trump that dismissing Sessions would only exacerbate the public scrutiny around Trump, who at that point had also fired the FBI Director James Comey and the national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Trump has made little secret of his disdain for Sessions in recent months, publicly berating the attorney general throughout the summer after telling the Times he would not have chosen Sessions for the job had he known Sessions would recuse himself. Trump also criticised Sessions' decisions at the Justice Department and referred to him on Twitter as "weak" and "beleaguered."

Sessions later described Trump's public tirade against him as "hurtful," but added that he intended to remain Attorney General unless Trump "wants to make a change." Sessions allies told the Times he wants to remain in the position because he believes he has a "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity to crack down on illegal immigration.


Senator Orrin Hatch is starting to see the light

A conservative Republican U.S. senator spoke about the "possible benefits of medical marijuana as an alternative to opioids" on the Senate floor on Wednesday afternoon, and introduced bipartisan legislation aimed at expanding cannabis research.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, who has represented Utah in Congress since 1977, has historically not been a champion of marijuana law reform, and continues to oppose full recreational legalization.

But in a floor speech he said that "in our zeal to enforce the law, we too often blind ourselves to the medicinal benefits of natural substances like cannabis."

While I certainly do not support the use of marijuana for recreational purposes, the evidence shows that cannabis possesses medicinal properties that can truly change people’s lives for the better," the senator said. "And I believe, Mr. President, that we would be remiss if we threw out the baby with the bathwater.

Hatch's new bill, the Marijuana Effective Drug Study (MEDS) Act of 2017 would ease researchers' access to marijuana for studies on its medical benefits and would require the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to develop recommendations for good manufacturing practices for growing and producing cannabis for research.

In a pun-filled statement about the legislation, Hatch said it is "high time to address research into medical marijuana," adding:

"Our country has experimented with a variety of state solutions without properly delving into the weeds on the effectiveness, safety, dosing, administration and quality of medical marijuana. All the while, the federal government strains to enforce regulations that sometimes do more harm than good. To be blunt, we need to remove the administrative barriers preventing legitimate research into medical marijuana, which is why I’ve decided to roll out the MEDS Act.”

Sens. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Chris Coons (D-DE), Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) are initial cosponsors of the bill.

In his floor remarks, Hatch spotlighted impediments to research that currently exist because of marijuana's status under federal law.

We lack the science to support use of medical marijuana products like CBD oils not because researchers are unwilling to do the work, but because of bureaucratic red tape and over-regulation," he said. "Under current law, those who want to complete research on the benefits of medical marijuana must engage in a complex application process and interact with several federal agencies. These regulatory acrobatics can take researchers over a year, if not more, to complete. And the longer researchers have to wait, the longer patients have to suffer.

Cannabis is currently classified under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. That's the most restrictive category, and is supposed to be reserved for drugs with no medical value and a high potential for abuse. Researchers have long complained that the classification creates additional hurdles that don't exist for studies on other substances.

The Senate Appropriations Committee issued a report last week expressing concern about Schedule I's research roadblocks.

There are several other pending marijuana bills in the Senate that would change federal laws to allow protections to people who use medical cannabis legally in accordance with state laws, but Hatch has not yet added his name as cosponsor of any of them. One such comprehensive bill has three Republican and three Democratic cosponsors.

Activists in Hatch's home state of Utah are currently collecting signatures to qualify a medical cannabis ballot initiative for 2018. A recent poll found that 79% of the state's likely voters support the concept.

Hatch is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is opposing the pending Utah ballot initiative.

"We believe that society is best served by requiring marijuana to go through further research and the FDA approval process that all other drugs must go through before they are prescribed to patients," the Church said in a statement earlier this year.

While Hatch hasn't revealed his position on the ballot measure, he did speak of a young Utah constituent who suffers from seizures and could benefit from medical cannabis.

"This poor family is seeking help, yearning for a way for their child to live a safe and healthy life," he said. "Compounds found in marijuana could significantly mitigate the severity of my friend’s seizures and even help him lead a normal life. But current regulations prevent the development of any such treatment from going forward. So this young man is left to suffer."

But despite Hatch's support for research and acknowledgment of marijuana's medical benefits, he isn't exactly a fan of how many state laws regulate the drug.

"If we make medical marijuana accessible to those who really need it, we should not increase access to recreational marijuana, nor should we do anything to promote the industry that has developed around marijuana dispensaries," he said, adding:

Mr. President, the recreational marijuana industry has its fair share of budding entrepreneurs. But these men and women are in no way qualified to issue prescriptions or give any medical advice whatsoever to people suffering from chronic conditions. Only experienced medical professionals who have undergone years of education and formal training are qualified to consult patients seeking a marijuana-derived treatment. Only licensed professionals know how to accurately diagnose illnesses and use approved medical treatments to safely treat disease.

The senator also expressed discomfort with the smoking of medical cannabis, saying he believes that "treatment options should focus on non-combustive forms of marijuana."

Hatch introduced a similar marijuana research bill last year, but did not so clearly endorse cannabis's medical potential in the related press release as he did in his floor remarks this time.

A growing body of research suggests that legal marijuana access is associated with reduced opioid addiction and overdose rates.


Let's thank Senator Orrin Hatch for taking this stand. Let's tell him the positive things associated with marijuana and why marijuana should be legal at the federal level.