While the federal government still blindly refuses to acknowledge that cannabis has any medicinal value, not all of its employees are fooled into believing the lie that legalizing the plant will do more to harm the public than what has been done under the guise of the "War on Drugs."
Congressman Carlos Curbelo, a Republican from Florida, took to Twitter to call out Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ war on cannabis in states that have voted to legalize it. He noted that by supporting interference from federal agencies, Sessions is proving that he has no respect for states’ right.
“The Attorney General's witch hunt against legally-operating, state-regulated marijuana businesses in states like Florida favors drug dealers and cartels operating ILLEGALLY and hurts LEGAL small business owners' ability to compete,” Curbelo wrote. “Our government must respect states’ rights.”
While cannabis is legal for medicinal use in 29 states and the District of Columbia, and a recent poll found that its legalization is now supported by 86 percent of Americans, Sessions started 2018 by showing that he does not care about what the overwhelming majority of the country wants.
The attorney general is rescinding a policy that keeps federal prosecutors from aggressively enforcing federal law in states where cannabis is legal. The Associated Press reported that Sessions’ policy “will let U.S. attorneys across the country decide what kinds of federal resources to devote to marijuana enforcement based on what they see as priorities in their districts.”
As has been the case with the War on Drugs since its inception, such a policy could be used by U.S. attorneys to target low-income cannabis users in states such as Colorado and California, while ignoring wealthy cannabis users—even though both groups were using the plant legally in their respective states.
The Tweet from Rep. Curbelo included a clip from his speech on the House floor, in which he stated that he is concerned about how Sessions’ policies will affect small businesses legally selling cannabis in his home state of Florida:
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“The voices and the votes of my constituents, Mr. Speaker, matter. The Tenth Amendment [to] the Constitution matters. And for those who like to call themselves constitutionalists, the entire Constitution has to matter—not just the parts that are convenient at a given time. In addition to the witch hunt opened up by the attorney general’s actions last week... federal law also prohibits these businesses from deducting the common expenses associated with running a small business when they file their taxes. Expenses necessary to running a business like rent, most utilities and payroll. Simply put, this rule places legitimate enterprises, which have been established under state law, at a major competitive disadvantage where legal employers are paying exorbitantly higher effective tax rates.”
The congressman then noted that it was for this reason that he introduced the Small Business Tax Equity Act in March 2017. The bipartisan bill seeks to amend the tax code to allow legally operating marijuana businesses to utilize common tax deductions and credits.
“The federal government should not be ignoring states’ rights and the decisions of voters and state legislatures across the country,” Curbelo said. “We must work to afford all businesses selling legal products the opportunity to make appropriate deductions and contribute to our economy to create jobs.”
Curbelo concluded by saying that he believes the best allies illegal drug cartels have are the policies of politicians such as Jeff Sessions.
While Sessions has tried to argue that legalizing cannabis increases violence, the opposite is true. A recent study published in The Economic Journal revealed that the rate of violent crime, which includes robberies, murders, and aggravated assaults, decreased by at least 12.5 percent in counties near the border between the U.S. and Mexico, following the introduction of medical marijuana laws.
Cannabis has also helped to stimulate the economy in the states where it is legalized, and if the government actually chose to act in favor of the American people by legalizing the plant, it shows the potential to have a significant effect on the entire country.
In Colorado, legalizing cannabis has actually helped to decrease opioid-related deaths, reversing a decade of rising deaths plaguing the state. Cannabis legalization has also helped to fix the state’s crumbling schools, and for the second year in a row, $40 million from taxes on legal cannabis sales went to a program to repair and replace rundown schools in 2017.