PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — With a sharply worded letter, PA Governor Tom Wolf warned U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to stay out of Pennsylvania when it comes to criminalizing medical marijuana.
“There’s a fair amount of concern about that indeed,” Sven Hosford, spokesperson for the PA Medical Cannabis told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Thursday.
“For a lot of patients, this is the only medicine that works. So for him to go after medical cannabis is kind of flying in the face of science and the facts.”
Here’s the problem.
While many states have legalized medical marijuana, the federal government has not.
That means, unless Congress changes the law, the feds can prosecute anyone who grows, prescribes, or uses medical cannabis.
Hosford says that’s happened in other states without medical marijuana laws.
“Patients have been put in jail. Parents of patients have been put in jail. Veterans have been put in jail. It’s really not a very good situation.”
But Attorney General Sessions says federal law still stands.
“Federal law on marijuana remains in effect in every state. It’s not eviscerated because a state ceases to enforce the law in that state,” says Sessions.
In his letter, Wolf warned Sessions, “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.”
The governor’s view is shared.
“I don’t think the federal government should have a say in that, especially if the states have already adopted something,” says Jack Durange of Bellevue.
“Why would they charge them with a crime if it’s due to a medical reason? So I think that’s wrong,” adds Liz Cheatham of Verona.
“The United States of America is about states’ rights, and the states should have a say-so in how their state is governed,” notes Dan McBride of Washington.
Pennsylvania will soon award licenses to grow medical marijuana, but some worry the feds may step in to prosecute those who grow, prescribe, and use medical cannabis.
“There certainly is a lot of worry,” says Hosford.
Sessions has zeroed in on medical cannabis.
“I think medical marijuana has been hyped — maybe too much,” says Sessions.
Although 29 states have legalized medical cannabis, it’s still against federal law.
The Obama administration refused to enforce federal anti-marijuana laws against states that had legalized it.
But it may be different under President Trump.
Sessions has threatened to prosecute anyone who uses marijuana, even if it’s legal under state law.
Statements like that led Wolf to send a strong letter to Sessions, warning him, “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.”
“We stand shoulder to shoulder with the governor,” says Hosford.
Hosford says Wolf and state lawmakers have support from the industry and patients alike.
“He has been an exemplary leader. Every level of state government, in fact, has been in favor of medical cannabis. There is full-throated support in the legislature.”