Pennsylvania Governor to AG Sessions: Back Off!

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director June 15, 2017

    In a recent letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf wrote a pointed letter regarding the Department of Justice and it’s posturing to implement a crackdown of lawful state medical marijuana programs.

    The full letter:

    Dear Attorney General Sessions:

    Last year, the Pennsylvania passed bipartisan legislation to legalize Medical Marijuana that I was proud to sign into law. The legislation was the result of conversations with Republicans and Democrats and fierce advocacy from families of children who were stricken with terrible illness that could be helped by Medical Marijuana.

    We talked to kids who suffer dozens of seizures in a given day. We met veterans who have seen absolute terror and seek relief from the effects of their post-traumatic stress. We approached the responsibility of providing relief to the people of Pennsylvania very thoughtfully.

    Since I signed the legislation, we have taken very careful and deliberate steps to implement the law so that those who are suffering can get relief while ensuring that the state is a responsible steward of the program.

    Given the bipartisan and medical consensus for Medical Marijuana in Pennsylvania and many other states, I am disturbed to know that you are actively pursuing a change in federal law to go after medical marijuana suppliers.

    We do not need the federal government getting in the way of Pennsylvania’s right to deliver them relief through our new medical marijuana program.

    Your action to undo the protections of the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which prevents the use federal funds to disrupt states’ efforts to implement “their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana” is misguided.

    If you seek to further disrupt our ability to establish a legal way to deliver relief of medical marijuana to our citizens, I will ask the Attorney General of Pennsylvania to take legal action to protect our residents and state sovereignty.


    Governor Tom Wolf

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions Photo by Gage Skidmore

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions
    Photo by Gage Skidmore

    This comes in response to a recently revealed private letter that Jeff Sessions sent to Congressional leadership requesting that the DOJ be permitted to target and prosecute state-licensed medical cannabis facilities, currently prohibited by a spending rider known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment.

    “I believe 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,” Sessions wrote, “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.”

    Jeff Sessions actually seems to believe that lawful medical marijuana patients, i.e. sick people, are causing the violent crime and contributing to transnational drug trafficking.

    Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was questioned about federal marijuana policy during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing earlier this week and he brought up current DOJ policy and left the door wide open to a potential crackdown.

    “Jim Cole tried to deal with it in that memorandum and at the moment that memorandum is still in effect. Maybe there will be changes to it in the future but we’re still operating under that policy which is an effort to balance the conflicting interests with regard to marijuana,” stated Rosenstein, “So I can assure you that is going to be a high priority for me as the U.S. Attorneys come on board to talk about how to deal with that challenge in the states that have legalized or decriminalized marijuana, whether it be for recreational or medical use…”

    The Cole Memo, is a Justice Department memorandum, authored by US Deputy Attorney General James Cole in 2013 to US attorneys in all 50 states directs prosecutors not to interfere with state legalization efforts and those licensed to engage in the plant’s production and sale, provided that such persons do not engage in marijuana sales to minors or divert the product to states that have not legalized its use, among other guidelines.

    But while the Justice Department contemplates its next move, Wolf and other state politicians are taking action. Recently, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) and Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) issued a letter to the new U.S. Attorney General and to Secretary of Treasury Mnuchin calling on them to uphold the Obama Administration’s largely ‘hands off’ policies toward marijuana legalization, as outlined in the Cole Memo.

    “Overhauling the Cole Memo is sure to produce unintended and harmful consequences,” the governors wrote. “Changes that hurt the regulated market would divert existing marijuana product into the black market and increase dangerous activity in both our states and our neighboring states.”

    Click here to send a message to your member of Congress to urge them to force the Department of Justice to respect state marijuana laws and then visit http://norml.org/act to support other efforts in your state and federally.

    PA resident? Click here to send a message to your state lawmakers to support the effort to decriminalize marijuana in the Keystone State.

    42 responses to “Pennsylvania Governor to AG Sessions: Back Off!”

    1. Chase says:

      I love how the AG states we are in the midst of a drug epidemic. Well the epidemic is the man made pharmacy opioids. Which easily kill people.
      Alcohol is way worse and how the F is alcohol not a sch 1 then ? Or tobacco?

    2. TheOracle says:

      Cannabis is Schedule I based on the science of 1937 when it was first outlawed and its illegality perpetuated ever since.

      For Rod Rosenstein in 2017 to use the word science in his responses is completely laughable.



      I didn’t see anything about this legislation legalizing medical cannabis banking.


      I am hopeful that legalization will improve the wages of campesinos en Mexico so that they have better standards of living in exchange for premium Mexican sativa strains. A water pipeline network is one way to approach the water shortage and makes a ton of above ground jobs plus some.


      Legal Cannabis Banking!

      • Julian says:

        @ Oracle,

        Isn’t former President Vicente Fox a fascinating character to listen to? His passionate way of expressing himself and his firmly enlightened understanding of world and cultural history make for some insightful commentary. On the passionate side, he makes from-the-gut comments like “Mexico is not going to pay for that FUCKing WALL!”
        But even before he entertained us with that, he made some profound comments about prohibition and human nature; “God did not tell Eve, ‘Don’t eat the apple because it has worms in it and it will make you sick,’ God said don’t eat the apple because it is prohibited. And so she did.”
        I often reflect upon that statement when I challenge myself to review all of the drugs listed in schedule 1 of the CSA Act, or whatever our prescription patenting system has become on the FDA’s auction block for human souls…
        I ask myself if we patent or profit the basic components of life are we not prohibiting life from ourselves? That is true whether were talking about water rights, cannabinoid US patent 6630507, or the unregulated prohibition of any organic compound.

      • Julian says:

        As far as cannabanking, unfortunately we’re going to have to watch this dumpster fire burn out with Trump and Sessions first. Sessions may not have the taxpayer cash much less the cooperation to get the US Attorneys appointed for a huge crackdown, but his little RICO cases are putting the ice on some big bank investors. And some of those banks are implicit in keeping the NY Attorney General’s seat vacant. To bad billionaires like the Kochs, “decriminalization” means legalizing white collar crime, not marijuana policy.
        What I find hilarious is that no one wants to work for this administration. Who in their right mind would? Trump is throwing Sessions under the bus. He’s clearly delirious and doesn’t know what the fuck he’s doing. Law firms won’t defend him because the dumb @$$ keeps tweeting confidential information that gets used in court! To top it off, the Secret Service had to change their drug policy because they couldn’t find anyone to take a bullet for this douche unless they have prior drug convictions. I don’t know what that says about the current failed state of our drug policy.
        In a roundabout way this anarchist delay tactic is useful: If US Attorney’s cant decide on firing the special counsel we could end up with the US v. Trump, which would be a great vindication that at least one branch… our courts of law… work and that’s where cartels need to legitimize their business and settle disputes. And by cartels I would include not only Mexican or Colombian cartels but the DOJ itself.

        Over the last several years I have been interpreting and helping undocumented Mexican immigrants to become residents, naturalize and vote. A question that always comes up in conversation is “when will this drug war end?” And I always answer “When people like you can vote and legalize drugs here in the US where the greatest demand for drugs and drug policies are made.”

    3. Miles says:

      Jefferson Davis Bearegard Sessions III indeed! His name alone tells you something about this man. He has little to nothing in common with most of his fellow Americans. The man is a complete embarassment to our nation.

      The man is an outrageous anachronism (a foolish throwback to a less enlightened time) and I hope that our Republican Congress doesn’t allow him to have his way! I really hope that congressmen are smart enough to realize that Sessions evil desire to lockup his fellow Americans for cannabis use needs to end.

    4. TheOracle says:

      Yeah. Right on. A pro-cannabis lobby group from the business side of things that lobbies at the national level, lobbies federal politicians.

      They need to advocate for legal cannabis banking. There is no need to differentiate between allowing legal cannabis banking for medical marijuana, yet still prohibit cannabis banking for adult recreational, because medical can come from the same outfit as recreational but just not be taxed at all or not taxed the same. It’s just too much of a bother to keep the financial transactions apart. How much of the cash deposits are medical legal from what of it they might be recreational? Yeah, well what of it? Do the feds even have all the personnel and resources to be policing constantly every financial cannabis transaction in the ever growing and snowballing cannabis market?

      What kind of legal action can Governor Wolf have PA AG Shapiro take against the feds? I thought Josh had already banded together with AGs from other states regarding cannabis.


    5. Denny Strausser Jr says:

      Jeff Sessions is only looking out for number one, himself. He figures he can place more money in his pocket, jailing people. He doesn’t care who’s lives he hurts, just as long as he gets more money in his pocket.

      Than others complain because these people have no jobs. Here’s a hint, STOP JAILING GOOD PEOPLE.

      I am a cannabis consumer, and I do NOT believe I should be placed in jail over cannabis. I am NOT a bad person.

      I am glad that our Governor is looking out for the people of PA.

    6. Bev says:

      Me thinks only liberals comment on this site. The wolf in sheep’s clothing is as much a crook as many in DC. Remember Libs…..conservatives of PA voted Trump in!

      • Julian says:

        Hey Bev, now that you regurgitated your support of Sessions and prohibiting life saving whole plant cannabis from children suffering from epilepsy, veterans with PTSD or anyone suffering from chronic pain or a neurodegenerative disease, you have to explain to us;

        …how do you sleep at night?

        Do you plug into Infowars or Fox news with an IV and survive on pure hatred? If youre not a liberal, then what are you “conservative” of? Compassion? Shame? Self respect?
        Because where I come from allowing children to medicate on whole plant cannabis instead of watching families waste away on predatory prescription meds and private insurance is conservative… and an act of basic human dignity.

        You should try dignity out sometime.

        It might make you click on the Act tab and join our efforts to legalize marijuana instead of declaring only Liberals care if parents dont have to watch their children die from parasitic meds, cancer and epilepsy.

      • Julian says:

        Oh, and Pennsylvania used voter caging from the Republican Crosscheck Program to steal the electorate for Trump:


        A program we blocked here in Texas, thanks to Democratic Voter Activists. You cant fool all the people all the time.

      • Dain Bramage says:

        Say what?

    7. Mark says:

      In the history of the USA, the people were only heard once. During the prohibition, the mob was making a fortune while the Government didn’t have a chance at stopping what was happening. Politicians were afraid to vote since they risked political suicide.

      So, they actually did something right and very smart…they put the repeal of prohibition up for a vote by the people instead of risking their careers.

      It was the only time in history the the American people’s opinion counted. People are much smarter than politicians think. We see that power is of extreme importance to them. Just think of the power they could have if they listened to the people they are supposed to be representing, and as a result became powerful in a different way rather than making us all criminals because a minority thinks that way.

      According to the CDC, ALL DRUG DEATHS COMBINED (under 100,000 per year) are dwarfed by deaths by tobacco 480,000 per year, but the only thing happening on that front is a “DARE” type program to school kids.


      Our tax dollars pay their salaries, put it to a vote by the People, counted by the people and reported by the people. Then you will have a true democracy, and politicians won’t have to worry about re-election.

      Our government isn’t concerned about helping to save lives. If the or sugar would be banned. Tobacco would be banned, and pain patients wouldn’t be made to feel like a criminal because of a currently changed specification of opioid medications. Tylenol, is the highest reported poisoning according to the CDC, and yet when someone dies with an opioid in their system, does anyone check the Tylenol as a possible cause instead? I doubt it.

      Let the people of our once great nation vote and put an end to missed taxes going to other nations.

    8. Julian says:

      Read the links in this March NORML blog:


      where I connect Sessions to Abbott Laboratories and the 75 million dollar settlement for depakote, a drug that killed children instead of stopping epileptic seizures… a tragedy legal marijuana can prevent. Abbott donated to then Senator Sessions heavily. Not only do these mass murderers like Insys Therapeutics stand to avoid lawsuits with an AG Sessions at their back, he can turn a blind eye while they pay kickbacks to Congressman and doctors to overprescribe their lethal synthetic opiates. The USAG should be prosecuting doctors and Congresman with offshore tax haven accounts that provide all kinds of lethal drugs from diabetes (Novo Nordisk, D-Debbie Washmoney Shultz) to the many Republicans like Sessions who have stakes in CVS Caremark that dont want to compete with a safe and effective whole plant cannabis market.

      We need to put partisan rhetoric aside and stop the Sessions-Trump night-train in its tracks. Lets click on the Act tab, call and visit our state and federal Congressman now and forever. And lets purchase state legalized marijuana to support the solution and vote with our dollar$.

    9. Ryan Michael says:

      It’s great that individual states are holding their ground! Quite a few state level politicians & representatives have come forward to defend cannabis consumption in the last couple years. It’s really quite amazing considering the state of the industry just 10 years ago.

      Pennsylvania is one i’m particularly excited about. We’ve been waiting on a sizable contract with a farm that was waiting to receive a license there, and they were one of the 12 chosen today!! We will announce the project and have a case study up at http://kindtyme.com when it’s finished.

      It wouldn’t have been possible without the support of people like Governor Tom Wolf. Good job Pennsylvania!

    10. jonjon says:

      I can not stand this bettie ? eyed little bastard. He and trump humper can go f… them selves. thank you gov. but i was hopeing you would have made it toatley legal.

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