Californians are eagerly awaiting January 2018, but another federal delay has shifted public concern. Chuck Rosenberg, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration since 2015, resigned from the Department of Justice and left a tense political debate on police conduct and cannabis policy behind him.
With Rosenberg out of the picture, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a longtime prohibitionist in the Justice Department, could stand in the way of progressive cannabis laws. Freedom Leaf, the marijuana legalization company, reported that Rosenberg “found himself at odds with Attorney General Jeff Sessions over medical-marijuana research. The DEA announced in August 2016 that it would accept applications from cultivators to grow cannabis for research, intending to expand the supply beyond what is grown at the federal farm at the University of Mississippi in Oxford—the sole source for nearly five decades.” But as of this summer, the Drug Enforcement Administration hasn’t issued any new applications.
The push for medical marijuana research wasn’t the only source of tension for Rosenberg. In a memo to his staff at the DEA, Rosenberg rejected President Trump’s remarks on use of police force when handling suspects, “We have an obligation to speak out when something is wrong.” NBC news also reported, “He listed ‘core values’ that he said were fundamental to the agency: “Rule of Law, Respect and Compassion, Service, Devotion, Integrity, [and] Accountability. . . This is how we conduct ourselves. This is how we treat those whom we encounter in our work: victims, witnesses, subjects, and defendants. This is who we are.”
While a replacement is assigned, the public can only hope that this unanticipated turn of events won’t impede progress that has been made state-wide. The Washington Post stated that, “Whoever Trump nominates will inherit primary responsibility for handling the DEA’s response to the opioid crisis, along with thorny issues involving marijuana enforcement and research.” Rosenberg’s successor will either confirm or confront the President’s stance on the nation’s drug policy, but if the DEA wishes to remain aligned with the White House, it won’t be a nominee known to rock the boat.
According to ABC news, there are currently four ideal candidates; “New Jersey State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes is considered to be the top choice. Others in the running include Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rick Sanders, Mississippi Department of Public Safety Commissioner Marshall Fisher and former State Department Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Robert Charles.”
A vacant position in the Drug Enforcement Administration might not be the worst thing to happen to the cannabis industry. After all, “This is a man who called medical marijuana a ‘joke,’” said Tom Angell, chairman of drug reform group Marijuana Majority. “There’s absolutely nothing funny about the people in my family or millions of others who benefit from medical cannabis. They don’t deserve to be laughed at, and they don’t belong in handcuffs.”
While the federal government may not recognize its medical properties, the cannabis industry understands that thousands are suffering from chronic pain or terminal diseases, and could possibly benefit from the plant’s comforting effects. As the DEA resituates itself before a momentous turn in legalization, cannabis-related businesses throughout the nation continue to hold their breath, and hope for the best.
Originally posted 2017-11-08 16:20:11.