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Jeff Sessions Breaks Cannabis Silence To Spread Fake News About A Marijuana ‘Myth’

It’s been a minute since Attorney General Jeff Sessions directly commented on marijuana. But on Monday, the staunch prohibitionist broke his silence.

Speaking at an event hosted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Sessions said that “there is a great deal of misinformation and misunderstanding” about impaired driving, especially when it comes to cannabis.

“In recent years, a number of states have repealed their prohibitions on marijuana use,” he said. “As a result, too many people think that marijuana is legal and that it is even legal to drive under the influence of marijuana.”

Sessions didn’t cite data to support his claim that a lot of people think cannabis-impaired driving is legal, but he reiterated that federal marijuana laws have “not changed” and suggested that there’s a common myth that “marijuana doesn’t impair driving.”

Legalization advocacy groups would dispute that point, as most proponents of marijuana reform recognize and support laws that prohibit driving under the influence of cannabis. Over the past few years, marijuana-friendly businesses have even launched campaigns aimed at curbing impaired driving.

“Marijuana use slows reaction time and inhibits motor coordination and decision-making abilities,” Sessions said. “That makes driving much more dangerous.”

“The bottom line is this: if you’re driving under the influence of drugs, including marijuana, then you’re risking your life—and the life of everyone else on the road.”

The attorney general went on to note reports showing increased rates of impaired driving where drivers tested positive for metabolites of THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. “Nearly a quarter of all drivers killed in car accidents who were tested had marijuana in their system—twice as many as tested positive for opioids,” he said.

But what his comments—which echo common talking points from anti-legalization groups—ignore is that today’s roadside drug testing technology cannot accurately detect active impairment. Rather, the most common tests are designed to show whether a person’s urine contains marijuana metabolites that can be detected in someone’s system for up to a month after consumption.

Opioids, by contrast, can only be detected in a person’s urine for one-to-three days.

In any case, it’s not especially surprising that Sessions—who continues to stand by the debunked “gateway drug” theory and believes that the therapeutic benefits of cannabis are not “as proven as some people say”—peddled some questionable comments about marijuana.

What stands out is that he called out cannabis after a protracted silence on the issue.

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Feds Would Compile Tips For Growing Marijuana Under Proposal Advancing In Congress

A key congressional committee approved a bill last week that would require the Department of Justice to issue more licenses for people to grow marijuana for research. But lost in the excitement about the historic vote, a little-noticed amendment got attached to the legislation that would have additional surprising impacts for cannabis policy.

The provision directs federal agencies to compile a list of “good manufacturing practices for growing and producing marijuana.”

In effect, it would amount to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) working together to come up with a master document advising researchers on how best to cultivate cannabis.

Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-IA) moved to add the amendment during the roughly hour-long House Judiciary Committee debate about the overall cannabis cultivation licensing bill on Thursday.

“This is a good amendment which will help researchers develop the science and evidence toward the medical potential of marijuana,” Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) said.

“I see no reason not to accept this amendment,” Goodlatte’s Democratic counterpart on the panel, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), said.

It was then adopted on a voice vote.

The amendment would require the federal agencies to “develop and publish” the good manufacturing practices tips for growing marijuana within 180 days of the bill’s enactment, and to revise the guidance annually thereafter.

The broader marijuana research licensing legislation the provision is now attached to, if it advances further, will head next to the Rules Committee and then to the House floor.

One open question is to what extent the narcs at DEA, in conjunction with researchers at FDA and NIDA, will be able to provide good advice for cannabis growers. The problem that the larger cultivation bill is trying to solve is the fact that the sole legal source of marijuana for research over the past 50 years has been a NIDA-licensed farm at the University of Mississippi which has been routinely criticized by scientists for providing low-quality product.

“If this bill moves forward, I hope NIDA, DEA and FDA will seek significant input from experienced cannabis growers as they develop standards for good manufacturing practices,” Natalie Lyla Ginsberg, policy and advocacy director for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, told Marijuana Moment.

Photo courtesy of Kyle Jaeger.

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Cop Congressman Wants To Drug Test All Of His Colleagues On Capitol Hill

A Republican congressman—who also serves as a reserve deputy marshal—is pushing a new proposal that would require all of his colleagues in the House and Senate to undergo random drug testing.

Under the Exposing Congressional Drug Abuse Act, filed last week by Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA), lawmakers would be screened for marijuana and other controlled substances once per term, “without advance notice.”

The first-term legislator initially floated the idea in a June Facebook video filmed from his car, just after being drug tested for his work with the Lafayette City Marshal’s Office.

“Why the hell doesn’t Congress have to have random drug screening?”

“Based upon some of the behavior I’ve seen, I’d be very interested to know what kind of illegal drugs are flowing through the veins of our elected officials in Washington, D.C.,” he said.

If the bill is passed, positive test results would be reported to the House and Senate ethics committees, and those panels would be directed to “publicly disclose the identity of each Member who refuses to participate in the program.” They could also “take other action against each such Member as appropriate.”

In a press release, Higgins said that “elected officials in Washington D.C. should be subject to the same kind of random drug screenings that blue-collar, working-class Americans have to endure.”

“Congress shouldn’t get to live by a different set of rules. This effort is about maintaining accountability and ensuring sober service to We, the People.”

The legislation was filed with zero initial cosponsors, and no other members have signed on since its introduction on Wednesday.

As the Monroe News Star first reported, Stephen Handwerk, the executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party, bashed the Higgins proposal in a Twitter post, calling it a “gimmick.”

Under Higgins’s bill, lawmakers would have to reimburse Congress for the cost of their own tests.

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Lawmaker Presses Trump Official On Banning Canadians From US For Marijuana

In the wake of reports that the U.S. federal government plans to apply lifetime visitation bans on Canadians who use marijuana as well as those who work for or even just invest in cannabis businesses, a member of Congress is pressing the Trump administration for details on how it plans to enforce that policy.

“We are concerned DHS is unnecessarily and disproportionally penalizing noncitizens who are engaged in lawful business activities,” reads a draft letter obtained by Marijuana Moment that Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA) will send to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on Monday.

The congressman’s letter comes just days after a senior U.S. Customs and Border Protection told Politico that “facilitating the proliferation of the legal marijuana industry in U.S. states where it is deemed legal or Canada may affect an individual’s admissibility to the U.S.”

But it’s unclear how border agents will decide who to question about their past marijuana use or involvement in the cannabis industry.

“We strongly urge DHS to clarify admission policies and procedures at U.S. ports of entry to help ensure transparency of such processes,” Correa’s letter reads. “The role that CBP plays in processing thousands of foreign nationals who come to the United States daily to conduct business is critical not only to the success of our economy, but also the safety and security of the American people.”

Correa is asking Kirstjen to answer a number of questions by October 1, including to explain how her department will “evaluate and determine that an authorized foreign national is associated with the cannabis industry” and how it will “determine that secondary questioning of an authorized foreign national associated with the cannabis industry is appropriate.”

He also wants to know what recourse affected individuals will have as well as how officials will determine “what categories of businesses or persons within the cannabis industry should undergo additional questioning.”

Previous Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, who is now the White House chief of staff, recommended in an interview last year that Canadians visiting the U.S. “check those pockets one more time” to make sure they aren’t carrying marijuana when crossing the border.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has himself admitted consuming cannabis, something that could technically get him banned from visiting the U.S.

Marijuana Moment supporters on Patreon can see the full text of Correa’s draft letter below:

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