Ever since the appointment of attorney general Jeff Sessions to the Trump administration, advocates of legalized cannabis as well as criminal justice reform have been wringing their hands and holding their breath in wait of the “crackdown” that has been promised by the Department of Justice.
The Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety, led by Sessions, is expected to release a report next week, and many fear that the report will draw a link between violent crime and cannabis. It is also anticipated that the report will recommend tougher penalties and policies against those who grow, possess and consume cannabis or cannabis-infused products.
In April, Sessions released a memo to the Department of Justice heads that the work of the Task Force will be accomplished via several subcommittees. In the memo, he also asked for initial recommendations to be made no later than July 27th.
“Task Force subcommittees will also 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,” the attorney general wrote in April. More recently, Sessions has declared an initiative that will encourage police seizures of civil cash and property, a procedure otherwise known as ‘asset forfeiture.’
Ronal Serpas, the former superintendent of the New Orleans Police Department and co-chairman of Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration, considers such a “crackdown” to be entirely unnecessary.
“From a practitioner’s point of view, marijuana is not a drug that doesn’t have some danger to it, but it’s not the drug that’s driving violent crime in America. That’s not the drug with which we see so much death and destruction on the streets of America. Crack and powdered cocaine, heroin and opioids is where we’re seeing people die on street corners fighting over territory or control, ” he says of the common misconception that cannabis use drives up violent crime.
As Sessions’ revival of the ailing war on drugs seems to become increasingly imminent, advocates, patients, business professionals and users all over the country are feeling the anxiety of what is going to happen next.
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