It was evident before he was appointed Attorney General that Jefferson Sessions’ drug policies are ill-informed and wrong. It took watching his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee last Tuesday to understand just how this is the case. I had a “eureka” moment. He closed his statement with a self-serving peroration that had no relation to why he had been called before the Committee: “… Just last week, it was reported that overdose deaths in this country are rising faster than ever recorded. The murder rate is up over 10 percent—the largest increase since 1968. Together, we are telling the gangs, the cartels, the fraudsters, and the terrorists—we are coming after you. Every one of our citizens, no matter who they are or where they live, has the right to be safe in their homes and communities.”
It is good news that Connecticut may become the first state to legalize marijuana through the action of state legislators rather than by ballot initiative. On the morning of March 7, a new state coalition– Regulate Connecticut — held a press conference to launch a campaign to tax and regulate marijuana there. The Public Health Committee of the Connecticut House then held over 14 hours of hearings. In the press conference, I made the case that legalizing marijuana can, and should, be made on religious, not just secular grounds. This is not immediately obvious. It requires a closer look.
In moments of national conflict, perhaps nothing can be more devastating to a soldier than to be left behind. Sadly, as we approach the time of year to honor those who have faithfully served our country, this is the case for veterans suffering from chronic pain, PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, phantom limb syndrome, cancer, depression, and a host of other medical conditions. Veterans have been left behind, and their medical providers have no ability to advocate for them. Over one-half of our national population now lives a state that permit marijuana as medicine. Ballot initiatives added four more on Election Day. Veterans are denied this service because the federal government continues to classify marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug with “high abuse potential, no medical use.”
By Rev. Alexander E. Sharp Clergy for a New Drug Policy has rallied faith leaders on behalf of medical marijuana in Pennsylvania, as well as taxation and regulation in Vermont. We believe that success is possible soon in both states.
This month, the Senate approved a funding bill authorizing Veterans’ Affairs healthcare providers to discuss medical marijuana as a treatment option for veterans seeking care. This bill marks a step forward in the provision of compassionate care for American servicemen and women. Research has suggested that medical marijuana can help ease suffering related to post-traumatic stress and brain injuries, which veterans often experience. Yet current federal law prohibits VA doctors from even discussing medical marijuana with their patients. At present, 23 states have legalized marijuana for medical use. In these states, veterans cannot receive or even discuss medical marijuana in VA healthcare centers.
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