Thursday, January 11, 2018

Arizona Rep Cardenas Introduces Legislation To Protect Medical Marijuana Industry from Trump Administration

Jan. 10, 2018
Contact: Robbie Sherwood
PHOENIX, State Capitol Rep. Mark Cardenas has introduced legislation to protect Arizona's growing and much-needed medical marijuana industry from recent Trump Administration threats to prosecute people in states that have made cannabis legal.

"Last week Attorney General Jeff Sessions inexplicably attacked the growing cannabis industry nationwide, so I'm taking steps to protect 157,000 patents in Arizona who desperately need this medicine to live with debilitating illnesses like PTSD and cancer," Cardenas said. "This move by Sessions makes no sense from a law enforcement, medical, human or economic perspective, so Arizona leaders should not just sit still and let it happen."

Cardenas' bill – House Bill 2144 -- will prevent any state or local law enforcement agencies from assisting federal law enforcement that might try to investigate, detain or prosecute any Arizona residents working legally in the industry under Arizona's Medical Marijuana Act, or who possess or are prescribed the medicine.

Arizona became the 14th state to allow medical marijuana when Arizona Medical Marijuana Act that went into effect in 2011. Since then, Arizona's cannabis industry has grown, and dispensaries now serve more than 157,000 patients with conditions ranging from seizures to PTSD, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

On Thursday, AG Sessions announced the withdrawal of federal guidelines that limited prosecutions of individuals and businesses that sold legalized marijuana. A memo released by the Department of Justice on Thursday called for “the rescission of previous guidance documents.”

While marijuana is still not legal under federal law, under President Obama the DOJ's 2013 Cole Memo instructed law enforcement and prosecutors not to prosecute medical marijuana users and providers in states operating well-regulated dispensary programs like Arizona's.

"The Sessions decision is out of step with where we are as a country on this issue, and it is causing undue stress for patients and those employed in the cannabis industry," Cardenas said. "The people of Arizona voted for the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act and support its health and economic benefits, and I am working to protect them."