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.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

From Congressman Dana Rohrabacher

Not long ago, a supporter of mine, visiting from California, dropped by my Capitol office. A retired military officer and staunch conservative, he and I spent much of our conversation discussing the Republican agenda.

Finally, I drew a breath and asked him about an issue I feared might divide us: the liberalization of our marijuana laws, specifically medical marijuana reform, on which for years I had been leading the charge. What did he think about that controversial position?

“Dana,” he replied, “there are some things about me you don’t know.” He told me about his three sons, all of whom enlisted after 9/11.

Two of his sons returned from the battlefield whole and healthy. The third, however, came home suffering multiple seizures each day. His prospects were bleak.

His medical care fell under the total guidance of the Department of Veterans Affairs, whose doctors came under federal restraints regarding the treatments they could prescribe. (Among the treatments allowed were opioids.) Nothing worked.

Finally, a sympathetic doctor advised our young hero to see him in his private office, where he could prescribe medication derived from cannabis. The prescription worked. The seizures, for the most part, ceased.

“Dana,” said my friend, “I could hug you right now for what you’ve been doing, unknowingly, for my son.”

What had I been doing? With my Democrat friend Sam Farr, the now-retired California congressman, I wrote an amendment to spending bills that prohibits the federal government from prosecuting medical marijuana cases in states where voters have legalized such treatment. The amendment passed two consecutive years, the second time with a wider margin than the first, and has been extended through continuing resolutions and an omnibus spending bill.

Surprisingly, given the Obama administration’s generally liberal approach to marijuana, its Justice Department tried to interpret the amendment in such a convoluted way as to allow counterproductive raids on marijuana dispensaries. The courts — most recently the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit — repeatedly ruled that our amendment meant exactly what it said.

Unfortunately, my longtime friend Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, has urged Congress to drop the amendment, now co-sponsored by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.). This, despite President Trump’s belief, made clear in his campaign and as president, that states alone should decide medical marijuana policies.

I should not need to remind our chief law enforcement officer nor my fellow Republicans that our system of federalism, also known as states’ rights, was designed to resolve just such a fractious issue. Our party still bears a blemish for wielding the “states’ rights” cudgel against civil rights. If we bury state autonomy in order to deny patients an alternative to opioids, and ominously federalize our police, our hypocrisy will deserve the American people’s contempt.

More than half the states have liberalized medical marijuana laws, some even decriminalizing recreational use. Some eighty percent of Americans favor legalization of medical marijuana. Only a benighted or mean-spirited mind-set would want to block such progress.

Despite federal efforts to restrict supply, studies continue to yield promising results. And mounting anecdotal evidence shows again and again that medical marijuana can dramatically improve the lives of people with epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, arthritis and many other ailments.

Most Americans know this. The political class, not surprisingly, lags behind them.

Part of the reason is the failure of too many conservatives to apply “public choice economics” to the war on marijuana. Common sense, as well as public choice theory, holds that the government’s interest is to grow, just as private-sector players seek profit and build market share.

The drug-war apparatus will not give ground without a fight, even if it deprives Americans of medical alternatives and inadvertently creates more dependency on opioids. When its existence depends on asset seizures and other affronts to our Constitution, why should anti-medical-marijuana forces care if they’ve contributed inadvertently to a vast market, both legal and illegal, for opioids?

I invite my colleagues to visit a medical marijuana research facility and see for themselves why their cultural distaste might be misplaced. One exists near my district office at the University of California at Irvine, another at the University of California at San Diego.

Better yet, they might travel to Israel — that political guiding light for religious conservatives — and learn how our closest ally in the Middle East has positioned itself on the cutting edge of cannabis research. The Israeli government recently decriminalized first use, so unworried it is about what marijuana might do to its conscript military.

My colleagues should then return to Washington and keep my amendment intact, declaring themselves firmly on the side of medical progress. Failing that, the government will keep trying to eradicate the burgeoning marijuana business, thereby fueling and enriching drug cartels. Trust me: Hugs from grateful supporters are infinitely better.


We are safe until December 8

A budget deal approved in Congress on Friday extended federal protections for state-legal medical marijuana patients and providers until Dec. 8, potentially creating another opportunity to ensure they are inluded in the FY 2018 budget.

Earlier this week, the House Rules Committee blocked an amendment introduced by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) from being heard by the House during the rest of the budget negotiations. This made it very likely that the amendment, which prevents the Department of Justice from targeting state medical marijuana programs, would not be included in the final budget for next year. Without inclusion, these protections would have expired Sep. 30.

This budget deal gives us a little more time to put pressure on Congress to do the right thing. Please contact your lawmakers and urge them to support medical marijuana.


Congressman Sessions blocks marijuana vote

Congressman Pete Sessions

Meet Congressman Pete Sessions (R),prohibitionist extraordinaire. Most prohibitionist Congresspersons get to vote on a pro-marijuana bill or two. Sessions has the power to block not just one but two pro-marijuana bills. Those bills are the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment and the Amendment To Expand Veterans’ Access to Medical Marijuana. It seems when you are the chair of the Congressional Rules Committee you get to do what you want. That is bullshit. Since when does one politician get to thwart the will of the people? if you are a constituent of Pete Sessions let him know you are less than pleased with what he has done. If you are not contact your Congressperson and protest what Sessions has done to these bills. The more of us they hear from the better.

Friday, September 8, 2017

A setback

Yesterday, our greatest fear on the House front came true: Republican members of the House blocked Congressman Dana Rohrabacher’s (R-CA) medical marijuana amendment from receiving a vote. That means the House is passing a spending bill that will fund Jeff Sessions’ annual budget while also untying his hands so that he can use that money to target patients and providers.

We’ve been shouting warnings about this from Beverley Hills to Capitol Hill for months, but few have listened. Now the enemies are at our gates, just like we always said they would be.

Only seven canna-businesses nationwide have heeded MPP's call to stand and fight instead of raising the white flag. The House/Senate conference committee is where we must make our last stand, and we have four shields in our arsenal: two Democrats in the House and two in the Senate.

The best defense is a strong offense. Please donate $25 or $1,000 today so that we can exert enormous pressure on the members of the House/Senate conference committee to include the Senate’s good medical marijuana amendment in the final bill.

To Donate

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Amendment to Cut Funding of DEA’s Cannabis Eradication Program

Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA) has reintroduced an amendment to cut funds from the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) cannabis eradication program through their Salaries and Expenses Account. In 2016, the budget for the eradication program was $18 million and the amendment would cut that in half. The funds would be redirected to domestic abuse prevention and juvenile justice programs. This CJS appropriations amendment that was also proposed last year.

In a 2015 statement, Rep. Lieu explained that this cannabis eradication program “is a ridiculous waste of precious federal resources, especially when multiple states and jurisdictions have already legalized marijuana…it is time for the federal government to stop making marijuana use or possession a federal crime.”


Here is Nelson Muntz take on this:

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Greedy businesspeople in Michigan want to thwart the will of the people

From Marijuana Policy Project:

Until recently, our signature drive to place a marijuana legalization initiative on the Michigan ballot was running smoothly.

There’ve been no serious problems with the campaign’s coalition or petitioning personnel, no problems with the initiative language, no problems in court, and no problems with meeting deadlines.

There are, however, problems with an aspiring marijuana cartel.

You see, a small circle of politically connected businessmen want to own the only companies that can legally grow and produce marijuana in Michigan. Unfortunately, because our initiative is too fair – it would allow regular people to own and run businesses – the creepy businessmen are working to prevent our initiative from reaching the November 2018 ballot, just so they can pass their own version of marijuana legalization in November 2020.

And they don’t care if an extra 40,000 Michiganders (mostly young men of color) get arrested for marijuana because of the two-year delay.

Seeing that our signature drive was ahead of schedule, the creepy businessmen recently convinced their friends in the Michigan government to target our initiative’s biggest source of funding – the dispensaries that provide medical marijuana to patients in all of southeastern Michigan. Almost all dispensaries are now expected to close by September 15.

Please punch back by donating $35 toward the $350,000 we need to complete the Michigan signature drive.

The old-boys club is sacrificing young black men on an altar of greed ... by using their tools in government to take medicine away from patients. You read that correctly: The bad guys are shooting at two groups of disadvantaged people to get what they want.

Now it’s your turn to fight two bad guys for the price of one: Please donate $35 or $1,000 today to defeat the cartel wannabes and corrupt government officials.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

This is what happened

You got your ass handed to you that is what happened. By electing Trump America said no to liberalism. No to feminism. By electing Trump America said it doesn't want a criminal in the White House.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Sign the petition Pelosi fears

From Senator Rand Paul and The National Right To Work Committee:

Below is a petition I've had prepared for you to your Senators and Congressman, the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader.

It's crucial you sign it at once.

You see, President Donald Trump has pledged to support passage of a National Right to Work act –- and promised to sign it into law if you and I can get it to his desk.

Without a doubt, this is our best opportunity EVER to pass a National Right to Work law to end forced unionism in America.

A National Right to Work law would ultimately end forced unionism nationwide by removing the sections of federal labor laws that allow union bosses to force workers to join a union just to get or keep a job.

So please sign your petition and include your most generous contribution to launch the next, crucial phase for ultimate passage of a National Right to Work law immediately.

You see, the union bosses, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and their allies are going to use every trick in the book to kill a National Right to Work bill -- and they will try to do it as quietly as possible.

The union kingpins (and their water-carriers in Congress) can't afford the consequences of having their coercive privileges publicly debated and voted on in Congress!

They don't want the American people to know that:

***Millions of workers are forced to surrender part of every paycheck to keep their jobs.

This cash funds violent "organizing" drives, provides a limousine lifestyle for union bigwigs, and bankrolls radical, Tax-and-Spend politicians like Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi.

***Big Labor's power is deadly to millions of small businesses.

Big Labor politicians and Obama-stacked bureaucracies have been strangling small businesses with confiscatory taxes, destructive laws and straitjacket regulations.

***Forced Unionism exports millions of good jobs overseas.

Productivity-killing work rules, workplace class warfare, slowdowns, "sick-outs" and strikes all have taken their crippling toll, closing the doors of many businesses -- for good.

***Billions of forced-dues dollars bankroll radical Tax-and-Spend politicians like Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, resulting in out-of-control spending and skyrocketing taxes.

That's why it's vital you sign your petition to demonstrate to Congress and the national media the strong support for Right to Work.

Of course, Big Labor allies in Congress may choose to obey the union bosses rather than the majority of their constituents.

That's their choice.

But time and again, when politicians defy the public and vote for forced unionism, they've paid the price with the end of their political careers!

So -- by all means -- let's have another vote and see which politicians want to end their careers in the next election.

That's why your signed petition and financial support are so important.

It's all part of the National Right to Work Committee's four-part plan to pass a National Right to Work law:

•Run TV, radio and newspaper ads targeting swing votes in key states and districts;

•Contact directly by mail and email up to 10 million supporters to urge them to demand their Senators and Congressmen vote for the National Right to Work Act;

•Brief personally the hundreds of favorable columnists, radio talk show hosts, editorial writers and bloggers nationwide who can help mobilize public opinion; and

•Crank up massive, paid phone banks in the days before the vote to really make Congress feel the heat.

Of course, this whole effort will be very expensive.

An all-out media and direct-mail blitz to mobilize massive public pressure on Congress will be the key to our success.

So, to pay for the expensive ads, mailings, phone banks and other efforts, it's vital you give a special contribution to the National Right to Work Committee today.

Will you make a generous contribution of $500, $250, $100, $50, $25 or $10 to launch the next, crucial phase for ultimate passage of a National Right to Work law?

The National Right to Work Committee has successfully beat back Big Labor's forced-dues machine for decades.

And now it's critical the Right to Work Committee have your financial support right away to put politicians' feet to the fire to bring the National Right to Work Act up for a vote.

It would be a crime to let politicians who support compulsory unionism off the hook.

Up against the forced-dues-fed, billion-dollar might of Big Labor, all you and I have on our side is truth and public opinion.

Together with the National Right to Work Committee you can make the difference.

Unlike Big Labor, the National Right to Work Committee doesn't have (or want) the power to force anyone to pay dues.

So it has to depend on the generosity of folks like you.

Some folks have already given $250, $500 and even more. For others, a contribution of $25 or $50 has been as much as they could afford.

Whatever you can do, sign your petition and include your most generous contribution.

Please don't make it easy for Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and Big Labor to destroy the National Right to Work bill.

Without your contribution of $500, $250, $100, $50, $25 or $10, the National Right to Work Committee won't be able to contact 10 million Americans, place the advertising, or staff phone banks to put Big Labor on the spot.

I believe it's vital we force roll-call votes in this Congress.

It's time to put Big Labor on the defensive. Without your help, the union bosses win by default.

Please act today.


Rand Paul, M.D.
United States Senator

P.S. Since nearly 80% of Americans oppose Big Labor's forced-unionism powers, a public debate and vote on a National Right to Work law is Big Labor's (and its water-carriers' in Congress) worst nightmare!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

George Soros and the Reichstag Fire in Charlottesville

The driver of the Charlottesville vehicle, which killed Heather Heyer and injured 19 others, was Alex James Fields. He was a supporter of Hillary Clinton and a member of Antifa funded by George Soros. He was only 20 years of age and lived in Maumee, Ohio. George Soros used him to further his movement to destroy the United States. All Americans, Left and Right, need to understand exactly what this evil man is doing to this Country. He is using two political parties to divide the US; ultimately starting a civil war that will crush the United States of America.

Driver of Charlottesville vehicle was Alex James Fields, democrat, Hillary supporter, ANTIFA member#MAGA #FraudNewsCNN #FakeNewsMedia
5:30 PM - Aug 12, 2017
180 180 Replies 842 842 Retweets 602 602 likes
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The mainstream media insists that Fields is a neo-Nazi, producing photos of him standing with Vanguard America and carrying a shield bearing the group’s insignia. What they don’t mention is that Fields is a known left-wing operative.

A further discovery made by the ACLU is that the police officers at the protest were ordered to stand down just before the attack by Fields.

ACLU confirms that police were given stand-down order. This invited the violence the city used to shut down a court-permitted protest. …
4:55 PM - Aug 12, 2017
995 995 Replies 9,394 9,394 Retweets 8,583 8,583 likes
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Again we are witnessing a shocking takedown of America by the Far Left funded by George Soros, as his goal is to destroy Western civilization. After the driver of the car, Alex James Fields, was identified by the authorities, someone put his social media accounts on lockdown, trying to hide his connections fo Hillary Clinton.

12 Aug
Whitehouse Plumber @rharrisonfries
Driver of Charlottesville vehicle was Alex James Fields, democrat, Hillary supporter, ANTIFA member#MAGA #FraudNewsCNN #FakeNewsMedia

Joe Middleroad @JoeMiddleroad
Who scrubbed all of his facebook-twitter and why? He was arrested...he did not remove the content. REEKS of a setup/false flag #infowars
9:05 AM - Aug 13, 2017
9 9 Replies 72 72 Retweets 90 90 likes
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As George Soros is funding Antifa, many allegedly agree that he is involved in funding the Charlottesville terrorism attack. I am using the word “terrorism,” as in my opinion what Fields did was a “terrorist attack.” George Soros, in my opinion, is nothing more than a terrorist.


Organized by Soros funded RACE ☠️ BAITERS who want CHAOS & HATE!

3️⃣DEAD including 2️⃣LEOS#MAGA #Chalottesville
6:46 PM - Aug 12, 2017
79 79 Replies 1,131 1,131 Retweets 990 990 likes
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Let us never forget that Obama actually invited the Ferguson Black Lives Matter group to the White House after the terrorism in Ferguson. He did not hold their feet to the fire, he simply kissed them in such a blatant slap in the face to the American people; therefore, encouraging these types of terrorist style attacks.

Feisty☀️Floridian @peddoc63
Obama didn't disavow BLM after they destroyed Ferguson & Baltimore.
Quite the contrary.
He invited them to White House! #Charolettesville
5:18 AM - Aug 13, 2017
390 390 Replies 3,877 3,877 Retweets 5,181 5,181 likes
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A citizen journalist actually made her way through the crowd in Charlottesville to bravely capture the event on video. She proved the mainstream media lied, as usual, spreading fake news from their ivory towers.

Joni Turner @joniturnerlaw
This shows everything!! Car ram and BLM being chanted! This show girl being killed! This is a BLM march …
6:10 PM - Aug 12, 2017

Faith J. Goldy ن🇨🇦 @FaithGoldy
#Charlottesville DOUBLE STANDARD: antifa allowed to march!!! — Charlottesville, VA, United States
137 137 Replies 856 856 Retweets 679 679 likes
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The man accused of being a neo-Nazi and murdering a woman by deliberately driving into her during protests in Charlottesville is in reality a supporter of Hillary Clinton and member of Antifa in receipt of funding by George Soros, according to reports.

James Fields, 20, of Maumee, Ohio, allegedly killed Heather Heyer, aged 32, and injured 19 others when he rammed his car into a group of protesters on Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Mainstream media is claiming Fields is a neo-Nazi and has conveniently produced photographs showing Fields standing with Vanguard America and carrying a shield bearing the group’s insignia.

But the mainstream media is actively suppressing information that proves Fields is actually a left-wing operative at the heart of a false flag designed to spark civil war, introduce martial law, and take away the rights of conservative groups to assemble peacefully.

Police were ordered to stand down just before the incident, as confirmed by ACLU. “This invited the violence the city used to shut down a court-permitted protest,” said Robert Barnes, a high-profile constitutional lawyer.

Immediately after the car was driven into the crowd and James Field was identified as the driver and arrested, his social media accounts were put on lockdown and scrubbed of political content. His affiliation to Clinton and the dangerous far-left is being actively suppressed.

There is only one winner in Charlottesville. His name is George Soros and he funds Antifa.

The UniteTheRight rally was planned months in advance, proper permits were sought and granted, and the peaceful protest was going to plan. Then, due to political pressure from the left, the city of Charlottesville rescinded the permit a few days before the rally.

This was a clear violation of the 1st Amendment.

So UniteTheRight went to federal court and won. A federal judge ordered that the rally must go on and the rally-goers Constitutional rights be protected.

But the left wasn’t finished. The Democrat mayor and police department ordered the rally an “unlawful assembly,” and threatened to arrest everybody – once again, violating 1st and 9th amendment rights.

Then things got bloody. George Soros’s Antifa stepped up to the plate, unleashing chaos and hate as per their job description.

Many are wondering if a civil war is starting within America’s borders. I, too, feel this could be the beginning of an ongoing civil war. Since the Far Left began attacking the Right and that includes a sitting President, it has felt as though their goal was to divide and conquer the United States of America. You have to wonder why they would do this? Why would they disrespect our voting system and strive to destroy their own country?

My belief is the Far left no longer considers the US a country at all, for they have surrendered their own rights to the New World Order, which is funded by George Soros. The goal of this elite globalist club is to destroy all borders and countries uniting together as one One World Order. This is only my opinion.


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Court Blocks Federal Prosecution of California Pot Growers

A U.S. District Court this week blocked federal prosecutors from moving forward with their conspiracy case against a pair of Northern California cultivators because the duo was determined to be in compliance with Golden State medical marijuana laws.

Humboldt County growers Anthony Pisarski and Sonny Moore had already pleaded guilty to federal allegations (conspiracy to manufacture and possess with intent to distribute) but sought an evidentiary hearing based on legislation, first enacted in 2014, that prohibits the U.S. Department of Justice from cracking down on cannabis suspects who are otherwise following their state laws. The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment is a budget rider, co-authored by SoCal U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, that prevents enforcement and prosecution in medical marijuana states by stripping funding for such endeavors.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg on Tuesday stayed the prosecution, so the case is closed unless the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment expires and fails to be re-enacted and federal prosecutors want to resume their case. The defendants' Beverly Hills attorney, Ronald Richards, says: "This is the first time in my 23-year career I've had a case stopped because of an appropriations rider.

"What the court did in this case may be used as a blueprint for other cases," he says. "It opens the door for people not to get scared."

The judge cited United States v. McIntosh, a United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decision last year that affirmed a medical marijuana defense for defendants facing federal prosecution in medical states. But experts say that United States v. Pisarski, et al. could help establish such a defense even further.

"It's significant that a federal court ruled that people targeted by feds and in compliance with California's medical marijuana laws ruled in the defendants' favor," says Dale Gieringer, director of California NORML. "This is the first case I'm aware of where McIntosh was cited and used to full effect."

Pisarski and Moore owned a property raided by feds in July 2012. Authorities said they found 327 marijuana plants, $416,125 in cash, and guns. But during the evidentiary process, the duo argued they were abiding by California laws and that federal prosecutors had no right to continue spending cash on their prosecution under Rohrabacher-Farr.

They argued that the weed was being sold to legit collectives. Judge Seeborg agreed, writing: "Their conduct strictly complied with all relevant conditions imposed by California law on the use, distribution, possession and cultivation of medical marijuana."

Tamar Todd, director of the Drug Policy Alliance's office of of legal affairs, said the ruling could have ripple effects throughout the West.

"This shows that you can prevail — defendants in federal court could have their prosecutions halted," she says. "It's enjoining the prosecution from being able to spend any more money on this case. It's very encouraging. It gives a lot of teeth to Rohrabacher-Farr."


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Poll: Americans’ Support For Marijuana Law Reform At All Time High

A record percentage of American voters support reforming the nation’s marijuana laws, according to polling data released by Quinnipiac University.

Sixty-one percent of voters believe that “the use of marijuana should be made legal in the United States” — the highest percentage ever reported by the poll. Support for legalization is strongest among those between the ages of 35 to 49 (77 percent), those between the ages of 18 and 34 (71 percent), Democrats (70 percent), and Independents (67 percent). Support is weakest among those age 65 or older (42 percent) and Republicans (37 percent).

With regard to the use of medical cannabis, 94 percent of voters say that adults ought to be able to legally consume it therapeutically. Among those polled, no group expressed less than 90 percent support for the issue.

Finally, 75 percent of voters oppose “the government enforcing federal laws against marijuana in states that have already legalized medical or recreational marijuana.” Super-majorities of every group polled, except for Republicans (59 percent), hold this position.

The Quinnipiac poll possesses a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percent.


This would be great to share with out public officials. Let's contact our Congressional Representative and our Senators. It would also be a good idea to contact the Speaker of the House and the The Senate Majority Leader along with the House Minority Leader and the Senate Minority Leader let them know we are serious about marijuana legalization at the federal level.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

'Leave Medical Marijuana States Alone': Leahy Warns Trump Administration

Sen. Patrick Leahy is leading an effort in the U.S. Senate to prevent the Trump Administration from cracking down on states that have legalized the use of medical marijuana.

Leahy says he strongly believes that the issue of medical marijuana is a state concern and he doesn't want the federal government to take any action to block states from administering their laws.

Currently, 29 states including Vermont have approved the use of medical marijuana.

Leahy says it's a waste of time and money for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to threaten states over this issue.

“If a state has a law that allows medical marijuana we've got enough important things to do not to have Jeff Sessions or anybody else go in and try to change that," said Leahy.

The U.S. Senate Appropriations committee has voted to support an amendment, sponsored by Leahy, that prohibits the use of federal funds to interfere with the operations of state approved medical marijuana programs.

"That ensures the Justice Department actually focuses on real things,” said Leahy. “They don't have enough people to go after medical marijuana patients who are following their state laws."

"If a state has a law that allows medical marijuana we've got enough important things to do not to have Jeff Sessions or anybody else go in and try to change that." — Sen. Patrick Leahy
In Vermont, a new law went into effect last month that could double the number of medical marijuana dispensaries in the next year.

Currently, there are four licensed facilities — in Burlington, Montpelier, Brandon and Brattleboro.

The new bill adds a fifth dispensary and allows each of these operations to open a satellite facility with state approval. In addition, another dispensary can open when the number of medical marijuana patients reaches seven thousand. Right now there are roughly four thousand Vermonters who participate in this program.

Bennington Sen. Dick Sears is the chairman of the Vermont Senate Judiciary committee and a sponsor of the new law.

"It has tremendous benefit in relieving the symptoms of various illnesses,” said Sears. “The new bill also provides more alternatives for people to buy through increased number of dispensaries."

"It has tremendous benefit in relieving the symptoms of various illnesses." — Bennington Sen. Dick Sears
Sears is hoping that the new law will result in the opening of a facility in the southwestern part of Vermont.

"Right now my constituents will have to travel to Brattleboro or Brandon to find the product to buy it legally, so many are still using the black market," said Sears.

While Gov. Phil Scott has some concerns about the legalization of recreational marijuana, as a state senator he voted for the original medical marijuana legislation and he signed the new bill into law this Spring.

"I think that it's regulated and it's been beneficial for Vermont," said Scott.

The full U.S. Senate is expected to consider this issue after its August recess.


Saturday, August 5, 2017

Justice Department Marijuana Task Force fails to come up with new recommendations.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The betting was that law-and-order Attorney General Jeff Sessions would come out against the legalized marijuana industry with guns blazing. But the task force Sessions assembled to find the best legal strategy is giving him no ammunition, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety, a group of prosecutors and federal law enforcement officials, has come up with no new policy recommendations to advance the attorney general’s aggressively anti-marijuana views. The group’s report largely reiterates the current Justice Department policy on marijuana.

It encourages officials to keep studying whether to change or rescind the Obama administration’s more hands-off approach to enforcement — a stance that has allowed the nation’s experiment with legal pot to flourish. The report was not slated to be released publicly, but portions were obtained by the AP.

Sessions, who has assailed marijuana as comparable to heroin and blamed it for spikes in violence, has been promising to reconsider existing pot policy since he took office six months ago. His statements have sparked both support and worry across the political spectrum as a growing number of states have worked to legalize the drug.

Threats of a federal crackdown have united liberals, who object to the human costs of a war on pot, and some conservatives, who see it as a states’ rights issue. Some advocates and members of Congress had feared the task force’s recommendations would give Sessions the green light to begin dismantling what has become a sophisticated, multimillion-dollar pot industry that helps fund schools, educational programs and law enforcement.

But the tepid nature of the recommendations signals just how difficult it would be to change course on pot.

Some in law enforcement support a tougher approach, but a bipartisan group of senators in March urged Sessions to uphold existing marijuana policy. Others in Congress are seeking ways to protect and promote pot businesses.

The vague recommendations may be intentional, reflecting an understanding that shutting down the entire industry is neither palatable nor possible, said John Hudak, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who studies marijuana law and was interviewed by members of the task force.

“If they come out with a more progressive, liberal policy, the attorney general is just going to reject it. They need to convince the attorney general that the recommendations are the best they can do without embarrassing the entire department by implementing a policy that fails,” he said.

The task force suggestions are not final, and Sessions is in no way bound by them. The government still has plenty of ways it can punish weed-tolerant states, including raiding pot businesses and suing states where the drug is legal, a rare but quick path to compliance. The only one who could override a drastic move by Sessions is President Donald Trump, whose personal views on marijuana remain mostly unknown.

The Justice Department declined to comment.

Rather than urging federal agents to shut down dispensaries and make mass arrests, the task force puts forth a more familiar approach.

Its report says officials should continue to oppose rules that block the Justice Department from interfering with medical marijuana programs in states where it is allowed. Sessions wrote to members of Congress in May asking them — unsuccessfully so far — to undo those protections. The Obama administration also unsuccessfully opposed those rules.

The report suggests teaming the Justice Department with Treasury officials to offer guidance to financial institutions, telling them to implement robust anti-money laundering programs and report suspicious transactions involving businesses in states where pot is legal. That is already required by federal law.

And it tells officials to develop “centralized guidance, tools and data related to marijuana enforcement,” two years after the Government Accountability Office told the Justice Department it needs to better document how it’s tracking the effect of marijuana legalization in the states.

Most critically, and without offering direction, it says officials “should evaluate whether to maintain, revise or rescind” a set of Obama-era memos that allowed states to legalize marijuana on the condition that officials act to keep it from migrating to places where it is still outlawed and out of the hands of criminal cartels and children. Any changes to the policy could impact the way pot-legal states operate.

The recommendations are not surprising because “there’s as much evidence that Sessions intends to maintain the system and help improve upon it as there is that he intends to roll it back,” said Mason Tvert, who ran Colorado’s legalization campaign. He pointed to Sessions’ comment during his Senate confirmation hearing that while he opposed legalization, he understood the scarcity of federal resources and “echoed” the position of his Democratic predecessors.

But in July, he sent letters to Colorado and Washington that stirred concern, asking how they would address reports they were not adequately regulating the drug.

It remains unclear how much weight Sessions might give the recommendations. He said he has been relying on them to enact policy in other areas. Apart from pot, the task force is studying a list of criminal justice issues. The overall report’s executive summary says its work continues and its recommendations “do not comprehensively address every effort that the Department is planning or currently undertaking to reduce violent crime.”


Thursday, August 3, 2017

Congress Is Heading for a Confrontation With Sessions Over Marijuana

Congress is heading for a confrontation with Attorney General Jeff Sessions over pot.

Sessions is seeking to crack down on marijuana use while lawmakers from both parties are pushing legislation that would do the opposite.

Measures have been attached to must-pass bills in the Senate that would allow Veterans Affairs doctors to counsel patients on the use of medical marijuana, and to continue blocking the Justice Department from pursuing cases against people who use medical marijuana in states that have legalized it.

Some lawmakers are pushing to go even further. Senator Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat, this week unveiled legislation that would legalize marijuana at the federal level. In the House, Republican Matt Gaetz of Florida proposed legislation that would change the federal classification of marijuana to allow research and a range of medical uses.

Booker said the law needs to be changed because minorities and the poor are disproportionately arrested for what amounts to a minor offense.

“It disturbs me right now that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is not moving as the states are -- moving as public opinion is -- but actually saying that we should be doubling down and enforcing federal marijuana laws even in states that have made marijuana legal,” he said in a video posted Tuesday on Facebook.

Eight states have fully legalized marijuana for adult use and 21 more have legalized it for medical use only. Federal law continues to ban the use and sale of cannabis. During the Obama administration, the Justice Department didn’t actively prosecute marijuana offenders, an approach Sessions has said needs to change.

Read more: Trump Casts Cloud Over Cannabis, But Money Keeps Pouring In

“I’m not sure we’re going to be a better, healthier nation," he said in February, "if we have marijuana being sold at every corner grocery store.” He later added, “My best view is that we don’t need to be legalizing marijuana.”

In April, Sessions put out a memo to U.S. attorneys about his crime-reduction efforts and said one of his subcommittees will "undertake a review of existing policies in the areas of charging, sentencing, and marijuana to ensure consistency with the department’s overall strategy on reducing violent crime and with administration goals and priorities."

Sarah Flores, a Justice Department spokeswoman, declined to comment on the matter.

The president has repeatedly expressed his dissatisfaction with Sessions, a former senator from Alabama, for recusing himself from a federal investigation into whether there was collusion between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia. The new White House chief of staff, John Kelly, told Sessions in a phone call over the weekend that Trump doesn’t intend to fire him, according to a person familiar with the conversation.

Spending Legislation

The Veterans Administration measure, sponsored by Republican Senator Steve Daines of Montana and Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, was added to a bill approved by the Appropriations Committee on July 13. The measure preventing funds from being used to crack down on medical marijuana was sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, and was approved by the Appropriations Committee on July 27.

The Republican-controlled Congress is already on record supporting medical marijuana. Since 2014, the Justice Department spending bill has included language that blocks funds from being used to enforce federal law relating to medical marijuana in states where the drug is legal.

Gaetz, the Florida lawmaker who introduced his marijuana legislation in April, said at the time that pot shouldn’t be classified by the federal government the same way as heroin or LSD.

“We do not need to continue with a policy that turns thousands of young people into felons every year,” he said in a statement. “Nor do we need to punish the millions of people who are sick and seeking medical help -- from pain, from muscle wasting, from chemotherapy-induced nausea.”

Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado said Sessions told him before being confirmed as attorney general earlier this year that he planned to take a hands-off approach toward states that legalize marijuana. Gardner, whose state is among them, said he’ll hold Sessions to his comments.

“The founders of our country intended states to be laboratories of democracy and Colorado is now deep in the heart of laboratory, along with many other states now," Gardner said in an interview.


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Ana Kasperian versus Ann Coulter on marijuana

There are times that Ann Coulter is one clueless bitch and this is one of them. Coulter came off very ignorant and she doubled down on her ignorance. She also came off as very elitist as well. Sometime she needs to shut the fuck up.

Could Trump replace Jeff Sessions in a recess appointment?

President Donald Trump sounds like he’s intent on forcing out his “beleaguered” attorney general, Jeff Sessions, either by firing him or demeaning him until he quits. Firing Sessions might get rid of one of the president’s problems, but it could create a whole host of others.

Most urgently, firing Sessions could sever Trump’s relationship with Republicans in Congress – you know, the same Republicans he needs to approve his nominees (in the Senate) or pass bills he can sign into law (both the Senate and House).

“If Jeff Sessions is fired,” Sen. Lindsey O. Graham, R-S.C., told reporters, “there will be holy hell to pay.”

The Washington Post’s White House team reports that if Sessions is out soon, Trump is discussing going over indignant Republicans in the Senate and bringing on a new attorney general while the Senate is on break this August.

Donald J. Trump ✔ @realDonaldTrump
Why didn't A.G. Sessions replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of Clinton investigation but got....
6:48 AM - Jul 26, 2017
22,421 22,421 Replies 16,001 16,001 Retweets 63,765 63,765 likes

It could happen. But it could also backfire bigly. And since Republicans control a majority of Congress, when they’re upset at the president, there’s a lot they can do to stop him – including preventing a new attorney general from taking office.

Let me explain.

Yes, Trump has the authority for a recess appointment
There’s actually a “Recess Clause” in the Constitution (Article II Sec. 2) that reads: “The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.”

Presidents have used it for everything from relatively obscure labor boards to filling seats on the Supreme Court. In 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower used that authority to appoint William Brennan to the Supreme Court less than a month before the presidential election. A few years before that, he had appointed Chief Justice Earl Warren to the court when the Senate was in recess. In both cases, the Senate later confirmed those justices.

But the courts have made it more difficult
Recess appointments can backfire, legally. In 2014, the Supreme Court overturned President Barack Obama’s three recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board, arguing that the president overstepped his constitutional authority.

The Senate can make recess appointments nearly impossible.
When it overruled Obama, the Supreme Court also gave the Senate a wide latitude to decide when it considers itself to be in recess and when it’s out. Today, a recess has to last at least 10 days before the president can legally make an appointment.

The court also okayed a loophole the Senate can use to leave town but still block a president from having free rein.

The Senate can go into “pro forma” sessions, which exist almost entirely to prevent a president from making recess appointments. In a pro forma session, the Senate can gavel into Congress – with no legislative business being conducted – and claim it has been in session. “The whole thing takes 20 seconds,” said Cornell Law professor Josh Chafetz. The Senate could theoretically gavel in/gavel out the whole time it’s gone in August.

It’s up to Republicans to decide if they want to hold the line against Trump.
If our hypothetical scenario becomes reality, this is where things get really interesting. You need a majority of the Senate to decide to go into a pro forma session. Republicans have the majority. So if Republicans decide to set up pro forma session when they go out of town in August, they’d basically be sticking it to Trump, saying they don’t trust the president not to do something ill-advised like fire his attorney general after complaining about said attorney general’s recusal from an investigation into Trump’s campaign.

Trump has one other legal avenue.
If Trump is itching to fire Sessions, Congress be damned, he could simply skip an appointment for good and just name an acting attorney general under the 1998 Federal Vacancies Reform Act. The end result is the same: One official out, another one in.

But, Chafetz notes, the president could only appoint people who have already been confirmed by the Senate for another job, and that’s a historically thin list. Plus, there’s legal uncertainty on whether the president can use this tool if he fires someone.

“It says death, resignation or unable to perform the duties of the office,” Chafetz said. “And there’s an argument that ‘firing’ is left out of that deliberately….”

Checks and balances can be a bother.

Pat Ward ✔ @WardDPatrick
AG Jeff Sessions to @TuckerCarlson on President Trump's criticism of him: "it’s kind of hurtful". Full intv 8pm @FoxNews
12:16 PM - Jul 27, 2017
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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Senate committee, rejecting request from Sessions, keeps protection for medical marijuana states

The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved an amendment to protect state medical marijuana programs from federal interference, despite a written request from Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this year that they not do so.

The amendment, put forward Thursday by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), adds a clause to the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2018 that prevents the Department of Justice from using funds to prevent any “State or jurisdiction from implementing a law that authorizes the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

Twenty-nine states, the District of Columbia, and territories Puerto Rico and Guam have passed laws legalizing various forms of medical marijuana.

In May, Sessions sent a letter to Congress asking them not to extend the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment with nearly identical language, which has been added to federal budgets since late 2014.

In his letter, Sessions argued that the amendment inhibits the Justice Department’s “authority to enforce the Controlled Substances Act. … It would be unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the Department to fund particular prosecutions, particularly in the midst of an historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime. The Department must be in a position to use all laws available to combat the transnational drug organizations and dangerous drug traffickers who threaten American lives.”

Last August, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that the language of the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment bars the federal government from taking legal action against any individual involved in medical marijuana-related activity absent evidence that the defendant is in clear violation of state law.

In May, Representatives Dana Rohrabacher (R-California) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) introduced into the omnibus congressional spending bill a similar amendment that prevents the Justice Department from using funds to interfere with the implementation of medical marijuana laws in U.S. states and territories.

The CJS budget now moves to the full Senate. If approved, the bill and its included amendments will go to a special conference committee to reach a compromise with the House version of the budget. If no budget is approved by Sept. 30, the previous amendment will be automatically renewed for another year.

In response to the vote, Blumenauer tweeted: “No surprise! This effort has overwhelming bipartisan support. Now, it’s time for the House act.”

Earl Blumenauer ✔ @repblumenauer
No surprise! This effort has overwhelming bipartisan support. Now, it's time for the House act. …
10:25 AM - Jul 27, 2017
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Here’s a look at some of the reactions from advocacy groups on both sides of the marijuana debate:

Erik Altieri, executive director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws said in a statement: “Attorney General Sessions thinks that medical marijuana patients are no better than members of illegal drug cartels. It is imperative that our elected officials remove any potential bite from Sessions’ bark by taking away his ability to use the full force of the federal government to go against the will of over 90 percent of American citizens who support medical marijuana access and, in the process, endangering the well-being of millions of medical marijuana patients.”

Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, said: “No one wants to deprive chronically ill patients of medication that could be helpful for them, but preventing the Justice Department from enforcing federal law is fueling black market activity and pushing patients toward an unregulated market proven to be hawking contaminated products as medicine.” He said efforts should be directed to fund more research on marijuana compounds that would go through the Food and Drug Administration approval process.

Don Murphy, director of conservative outreach for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement: “More than half the states have taken a stand and said they want their seriously ill residents to have safe and reliable access to medical marijuana, and today the Senate Appropriations Committee listened. We strongly urge the rest of Congress to do the right thing and include this amendment in the final budget.”


Republicans Block Congressional Marijuana Votes

House Republican leadership is blocking floor consideration of several marijuana amendments on issues ranging from military veterans’ access to medical cannabis to water rights for cultivators.

Despite passionate pleas and support from members of both parties, particularly on the veterans issue, the House Rules Committee on Tuesday night ruled that the marijuana amendments were not in order and would not receive votes by the full chamber this week.

Earlier in the day, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), the veterans amendment’s lead sponsor, testified before the committee that it was “a critical area of literally life and death.”
Many military veterans use cannabis to treat physical pain caused by war wounds or to manage the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

But under a current internal U .S. Department of Veterans Affairs (V.A.) administrative directive, government doctors are not allowed to fill out recommendation forms that would let veterans legally receive medical cannabis under state law.

Blumenauer’s measure, which he sought to attach to legislation funding the V.A. and other departments for fiscal year 2018, would simply prevent the government from spending money to enforce the current ban in states where medical cannabis is legal.

Citing statistics showing that an average of 22 military veterans a day commit suicide and that death rate from opioid overdoses among V.A. patients is nearly double the national average, he said, “It’s essential that veterans be allowed to access this as a treatment if it’s legal in their state.”

Republican Congressman Dan Newhouse of Washington State, a Rules Committee member, also voiced his support.
“I’m one of those people that have seen firsthand the benefit that people can derive from medical marijuana. We’re not just talking smoking joints here,” he told his fellow committee members. “There’s a lot of different derivatives that can be used that help people alleviate pain. It seems to me that if that’s available and it works we should make it available to our veterans as well, as long as it’s in accordance with state law.”

But those pleas, and the fact that the amendment was adopted by the House last year by a vote of 233 to 189, or that the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a similar measure this month with a bipartisan margin of 24 to 7, were not enough to convince Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX), to allow a floor vote.

Eighteen lawmakers — nine Democrats and nine Republicans — cosponsored the veterans cannabis proposal, more than any of the other 333 amendments filed before the committee. A total of 72 of those were approved for floor consideration.

After the news about the amendment being blocked broke late Tuesday night, Blumenauer’s office sent a press release pointing out that the measure had “stronger support in the House and Senate than ever before.”
“All we want is equal treatment for our wounded warriors,” the congressman said in the statement. “This provision overwhelmingly passed on the House floor last year – and bipartisan support has only grown. It’s outrageous that the Rules Committee won’t even allow a vote for our veterans. They deserve better. They deserve compassion.”

Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-NV), one of the cosponsors of the veterans amendment, pledged to “keep fighting.”

Amnd. to remove barriers for #veterans to access med. #marijuana won't get vote after @RulesReps blocks. It would pass. I'll keep fighting.

— Dina Titus (@repdinatitus) July 26, 2017
Blumenauer also took to Twitter to restate his commitment to keep pushing the issue.
Our vets are dying from opiate overdoses at alarming rates. You better believe we're going to keep fighting to get them safer alternatives.
— Earl Blumenauer (@repblumenauer) July 26, 2017

The Rules Committee also did not allow three amendments addressing water rights for marijuana and hemp cultivators to advance to the floor.

Whereas spending bills have in years past been brought to the floor under open rules that allow votes on almost any germane amendment, House Republicans last year began locking down the process after controversy surrounding riders concerning gun policy and the right of transgender people to access public bathrooms threatened the passage of some bills.

As a result, amendments on cannabis businesses’ access to banks and Washington, D.C.’s ability to spend its own money legally regulating marijuana sales were blocked from floor consideration last summer.
The veterans access issue isn’t necessarily dead for the year. Advocates hope that because the provision was inserted into the Senate’s version of V.A. funding legislation with such a strong bipartisan vote that the conference committee that later merges the two chambers’ bills together into a single proposal will adopt the language.

However, a conference committee stripped the veterans cannabis provision out of last year’s bill even though it had been approved by strong bipartisan majorities in both chambers. This time, there won’t even be a House vote on the measure.

The Senate version of the bill that covers the U.S. Department of Energy and water regulations contains an amendment protecting hemp growers’ water rights, a result of a voice vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee last week.

Meanwhile, that panel is expected to consider an amendment to continue blocking the U.S. Department of Justice from interfering with state medical cannabis laws on Thursday.


If you are a constituent of Congressman Pete Sessions and you are less than thrilled with his blocking this amendment perhaps you should let him know. You call him at

Washington, DC Office
2233 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-4332
Phone: 202.225.2231
Fax: 202.225.5878

Or you can email and let him know your displeasure.