The Great Doobie Debate

What lies ahead in Jeff Sessions’ war on marijuana?

Just in time to gear up for the final boss, Arizona medical marijuana has finally gotten the best of longtime foe Bill Montgomery.

The Maricopa County Attorney has let his five-year battle with the state's 2010 marijuana law fizzle by missing a Dec. 11 deadline to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court after the Arizona Supreme Court rendered his case inert by denying a hearing in early September.

Montgomery's silence marks concession in a legal struggle begun in 2012, when Arizona dispensaries first rolled out the green carpets for medical marijuana patients. He targeted a single dispensary in unincorporated Maricopa County, White Mountain.

Montgomery called upon the Maricopa Board of Supervisors to deny White Mountain the necessary zoning to open shop, referencing federal law, a precedent that, if passed, would have had ramifications for dispensaries across the state.

Maricopa Superior Court struck down the case in December 2012, and the Arizona Court of Appeals followed suit in December 2016.

While the battle has been won, the war is far from over. Montgomery is sure to be a player in Attorney General Jeff Sessions' assault on the marijuana industry.

A photo taken by press photographers revealed an agenda of one of Sessions' anti-marijuana meetings.

The agenda may give us a clue as to what to expect from Sessions as the Congressional legislation protecting the marijuana industry has disappeared with the passage of the latest budget bill.

Here's a transcript of the leaked agenda:


Bertha Madras: Marijuana is not a substitute for opiates as a pain medication.

Dr. Hoover Adger: The harm from today's marijuana.

Dr. Bob DuPont: The effect of marijuana on drugged driving.

David Evans: The role that the Food and Drug Administration can and should [obscured]

[obscured] The organizations you can speak for and what you and they are [obscured] people from recreational marijuana use.

[obscured] law enforcement thinks of the commercialization of [obscured] law enforcement would support an enforcement initiative.

[obscured] course of marijuana commercialization in the states if the [obscured] not intervene.

Bertha Madras is a Harvard Medical School professor and sits on the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, established in March. Madras wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post in April 2016 called "5 reasons marijuana is not medicine."

Her reasoning largely revolves around a lack of studies concerning marijuana. It's been well-established that the federal government is largely to blame for hindering the study of marijuana by scientists.

SAM's CEO, Kevin Sabet, was also in attendance at Sessions' meeting.

Hoover Adger is a pediatrics professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and sits on the board of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a national anti-marijuana group that donated funds in 2015 to defeat Prop 205 here in Arizona.

Bob DuPont has a history as director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse under Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

DuPont told a story about how he supported marijuana decriminalization under Ford in a 2000 interview with Frontline.

"At the time I knew marijuana was not good," he told Frontline. "And I always spoke about the health hazards of marijuana ... But I would balance that health message with a message that says we don't want to use criminal law to try to solve a public health problem."

Finally, David Evans is a lawyer and heads the Drug Free Schools Coalition. Evans wrote a couple op-eds for U.S. News and World Report in 2012, decrying marijuana legalization on the grounds of increased use, especially among teenagers.

What Sessions' agenda and meeting fellows reveals is that he's not seeking a robust understanding of marijuana, but rather forming a coalition of decidedly anti-marijuana opinions to combat growing public favor.

The meetings topics indicate that Sessions may not start busting down dispensaries' doors right away, but first attempt to sway public opinion away from legalization.

Polls indicate a steady rise in the acceptance of marijuana. At the moment, it seems that every article and studying demonstrating marijuana's usefulness, another denounces it.

As the amount of anti-marijuana rhetoric increases, it'll be up to proponents to continue to show false analysis and efficacy of the plant. But in the turmoil of arguments and counter-arguments sure to come, the truth should surface and prevail.

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