I served as MPP’s Director of State Campaigns from 2015 - 2017, and helped lead successful ballot initiative campaigns in 2016 in Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada. At the end of November 2017, I was named MPP’s Interim Executive Director.

Today, there are reports that Attorney General Jeff Sessions will rescind the Cole Memo, which provides protections for states with legal marijuana from the federal government. If the Cole memo is rescinded, that would enable federal law enforcement agents to raid licensed, regulated, and tax-paying businesses -- businesses that employ thousands of Americans and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue for public services including substance abuse treatment programs and new school construction. Jeff Sessions is ignoring the will of the people and he must be stopped.

I am determined to fight this move, to legalize marijuana, and to remind Mr. Sessions that marijuana must be a states' rights issue. Ask me anything!

My Proof

EDIT: Hey everyone, I'm signing off. Thank you so much for all the questions. Sorry I couldn't answer everything -- it's been a busy day as you can imagine. Please visit mpp.org to learn more about our organization's work -- we're fighting for medical marijuana and full legalization policies in states across the country, and we're fighting to fix marijuana policy at the federal level. If you can, please consider making a donation to mpp.org/donate Thank you -- Matt

Comments: 58 • Responses: 21  • Date: 

sidetabledrawer12 karma

First of all, thank you so much for doing this very timely AMA. I have a few questions:

*How do you anticipate this will all shake out in the end? It seems like the tide of public opinion has shifted (and is still shifting) in favor of legalized recreational marijuana. However, I've seen various arguments from both sides that make at least some degree of sense. One of the more solid arguments from the "anti-marijuana" camp is that "technically it was always federally illegal" because federal law never changed, just shifted to a more laissez faire policy.

*How will this affect medical marijuana? Moreso than recreational marijuana, MMJ seems to enjoy relatively broad support (even among conservatives). Do you think Sessions & Co. will try to avoid the potential PR nightmare of denying epileptic children, those in palliative care, and cancer patients their medications? Or do they simply not care at this point?

*What would the timeline be for a change like this? How long after the directive is given to crack down on marijuana would it actually take for the justice system to start shutting down dispensaries and making arrests? Is this likely (or even feasible) if the states (and their police forces) refuse to cooperate?

I think that's all for now. Thank you so much! <3

MarijuanaPolExDir13 karma

1) Our hope and goal is for Congress to take legislative action this year that establishes marijuana as a states' rights issue.

2) As of right now, the Justice Department is still restricted from interfering in medical marijuana laws at the state level. That has not changed as a result of today's announcement. We need Congress to renew that policy, so please call your Congressmen and Senators and urge them to protect state-level medical marijuana laws from federal interference.

3) That remains to be seen. In theory, federal prosecutors and agents could take immediate action against state-legal marijuana businesses.

darth_plissken11 karma

Hi Matt,

I came over from the MPP Twitter page, thanks for doing this - it's been a super stressful morning because of this news.

I live in Colorado and have three autoimmune disorders, one of which prevents me from taking pills to help the other two - because of this, I really almost purely on medical marijuana to stay alive. I am literally alive today because I have access to medical marijuana and now I fear for my life.

What will this mean for medical marijuana states?

Do you need anyone else to help sue the DOJ or federal government? I volunteer my case to you.

Edit: Link to their tweet for additional verification: https://twitter.com/MarijuanaPolicy/status/948964281898405888

MarijuanaPolExDir12 karma

I am so glad to hear that medical marijuana is working as a treatment for you. The fact that our country has blocked access to medical treatments and medical research is shameful. Thankfully, a great deal of progress has been made in recent years.

What will this mean for medical marijuana states? As of right now, the Justice Department is still restricted from interfering in medical marijuana laws at the state level. That has not changed as a result of today's announcement. We need Congress to renew that policy, so please call your Congressmen and Senators and urge them to protect state-level medical marijuana laws from federal interference.

Thank you for volunteering to be part of legal action. Please email [email protected] and we'll continue that conversation.

Deyy_took_our_gunz6 karma

hello matt,

The Obama-appointed head of the DEA, Michele Leonhart, was an avid prohibitionist. her replacement Chuck Rosenberg was only moderatly or slightly better. Is it hopeless to wait for the executive branch and Congress? Should we continue the strategy of legalizing state by state, given that Jeff Sessions is just the latest evidence of a lack of federal progress?

MarijuanaPolExDir8 karma

We should continue legalizing marijuana at the state level in anticipation of a change in federal policy. At the same time, we should increase pressure on Congress to take action to establish legalization as a states' rights issue. It's a two-pronged approach.

mulchz6 karma

What effect will this have on the states that are currently considering legalizing in 2018? Will states like Vermont, where the legislature seems poised to act, slow down in response to this news? How will this affect marijuana on the 2018 ballot in Oklahoma, Michigan, and Utah?

Second, given Session's somewhat fraught relationship with the president, do you anticipate Trump will react negatively to his Attorney General's decision to move marijuana policy in the opposite direction of what Trump promised on the campaign trail (leave it up to the states)?

MarijuanaPolExDir6 karma

Vermont should move ahead. The law that the VT legislature is poised to approve would legalize limited possession and home cultivation. Even if Sessions launches a damaging crackdown on marijuana businesses, that VT law is still very beneficial because it protects individual rights and stops Vermont law enforcement from enforcing certain prohibition laws.

Michigan should move ahead in anticipation of a change in federal policy. Oklahoma and Utah are medical campaigns and less affected by today's news.

I think it's difficult for anyone to predict our President's behavior on any issue. He clearly stated on the campaign that marijuana should be a states' right issue. You can email the White House using this link to remind him of that: http://action.mpp.org/p/dia/action4/common/public/?action_KEY=23874

Chelseahopkins5 karma

How can individuals help to stop this from happening?

MarijuanaPolExDir8 karma

1) Call your Congressmen and Senators: tell them that you want Congress to pass legislation that establishes marijuana legalization as a states' rights issue.

2) Please call the White House at 202-456-1414 or reach out to President Trump on Twitter and tell the administration that you oppose any Justice Department crackdown on state-legal marijuana businesses.

3) Donate to MPP so we can increase pressure on Congress to end federal interference in state-level marijuana laws.

mpphim4 karma

Hi Matt, thanks for doing this!

What is your opinion on ending the War on Drugs entirely and either legalizing or decriminalizing all psychoactive substances? Also, do you think this is something that could feasibly happen in the next 25 years or so?

Thanks again!

MarijuanaPolExDir4 karma

We're focused solely on marijuana and medical marijuana here at MPP

MarijuanaPolExDir4 karma

That being said, we are excited by the medical research being done by organizations such as MAPS. Thanks for reaching out.

Jerseyprophet4 karma

I just want to express my admiration and appreciation for what you and the MPP is doing.

I am an Army veteran, and painfully aware of the 23-a-day veteran suicide rate. I've been saved, and so have many of my brothers and sisters, by having access to nature.

How silly is this, that we're still debating the legitimacy of a plant? Anyway, I am doing what I can to help the fight, and have hand-held 4 of my fellow veterans in to getting their MM cards. NJ makes it overly obnoxious and not very approachable to do so, so someone who knows how helps. It's not much, but what else can a citizen do?

Thank you for you're doing, for what MAPS is doing with clinical trials of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD, for all of these forward-thinkers that are helping to usher in a brighter tomorrow. With love and admiration, SGT L., US Army 2001-2007

MarijuanaPolExDir6 karma

Thank you so much for your service, your kind message, and the help you've provided to other veterans in accessing the medicine they need. Suicide, among the general population and among veterans, is a tragic and urgent public health issue. Providing more treatment options for conditions like PTSD is part of the solution. Like you, we're also admirers of the work done by MAPS.

seizuresrock4 karma

I've followed you MPP and it's efforts for quite a while now. Thank you for all you do. What can one volunteer to do besides just writing congressman to help move the cause along?

MarijuanaPolExDir2 karma

Following up with phone calls to members of Congress is always helpful. If you've able to donate, we would greatly appreciate that. It will fuel our advocacy efforts here in DC and allow us to increase pressure on Congress (mpp.org/donate). Also, go to mpp.org/takeaction to find other ways to get involved. The state where you live may have local volunteer opportunities. Thank you for your support!

susandeschain93 karma

Will your organization continue to support efforts of legalizing medical cannabis in Missouri (New Approach Missouri ballot initiative) while all this craziness with Sessions is going on?

MarijuanaPolExDir4 karma

Yes, we support the campaign in Missouri. And we are helping to lead a medical marijuana ballot initiative campaign in Utah and a full legalization ballot initiative campaign in Michigan. It's full steam ahead for the 2018 ballot initiatives.

election_info_bot3 karma

Legal state here. Are they coming after our money?

MarijuanaPolExDir20 karma

They're coming after your freedom.

thatartistilike3 karma

My representative appears to be a staunch Trump supporter. What do you recommend is the best way for us to approach our more conservative representatives?

MarijuanaPolExDir5 karma

Focus on states' rights, which most conservatives tend to support in principle.

Lstn2TownesVanZandt3 karma

My question is, What the Fuck? But seriously, from your perspective, what is the government's motivation for this nonsense?

MarijuanaPolExDir13 karma

It's hard to say, given that a strong majority of Americans support legalization and believe that marijuana should be a states' rights issue. Jeff Sessions has a long-standing tradition of taking deeply misguided positions on marijuana policy. His motivation is guided by obsolete thinking. What matters is how we respond. We need Congress to pass legislation that allows states to decide their own marijuana laws without interference from the federal government. We need to take away Sessions' ability to trample on states' rights.

himynameisneck3 karma

How can individuals help to stop this from happening?

MarijuanaPolExDir5 karma

1) Email the President and tell him to keep his campaign promise. http://action.mpp.org/p/dia/action4/common/public/?action_KEY=23874

2) Contact your members of Congress. Tell them to pass legislation that prevents federal interference in state level marijuana laws.

3) Donate to MPP so we can increase pressure on Congress this year. mpp.org/donate

Thanks!

gottabelenny2 karma

  1. In a neutral mindset, how likely is it to progress towards your ultimate goal? 2. Does this include V.A. patients? 3. Why do they keep bouncing back and forth on this?

MarijuanaPolExDir3 karma

1) Give the strong public support nationwide for legalization, I think it's a question of when, not if, the federal government acknowledges that marijuana policy should be left to the states.

2) VA patients faced obstacles to accessing medical marijuana before today's decision. MPP has been working to address that issue in Congress and will continue to do so.

3) President Trump said during the campaign that marijuana policy should be left to the states to decide. Email him and remind him to stick to that promise by supporting legislation that protects state marijuana laws from federal interference. http://action.mpp.org/p/dia/action4/common/public/?action_KEY=23874

IamAWorldChampionAMA1 karma

If this issue goes to the Supereme Court, what makes you think the Court won't use the Commerce Clause like it's done in the past to make Marijuana illegal?

MarijuanaPolExDir3 karma

If Congress takes action to defend states' rights on marijuana, this issue would not involve the Supreme Court.

EDIT: changed to "defend states' rights on marijuana"

limpinfrompimpin1 karma

So Phillips Morris just said that they want out of the tabacco game. Do you think this is all just a ploy to hand legalization over to them ?

MarijuanaPolExDir4 karma

No, I don't. I think this decision is driven by outdated and misguided beliefs on marijuana.

_jhaysukun1 karma

Greetings from the Philippines! The Philippine' Government is on the move of reviewing the Bill which would legalize marijuana in the country. if you're given the chance to be heard by the government, what will you say/ how will you convince them to approve the bill?

MarijuanaPolExDir3 karma

We focus on United States policy, but please feel free to use our website as a resource (mpp.org) and contact us with questions. President Duterte's drug policies are despicable and some of the most inhumane on the planet, so we very much hope that advocates in the Philippines are successful in bringing about more sensible marijuana laws.

coryrenton1 karma

are there any interesting tactics discussed in terms of finding ways to stymie Sessions or remove him from office rather than fighting on a purely judicial/legislative approach?

MarijuanaPolExDir3 karma

That would be difficult. We really need Congress to take action so that Sessions no longer has the authority to decide whether or not the federal government should interfere in state level marijuana laws.

WickedSushi1 karma

Will legalization of marijuana help get more people out of jail?

MarijuanaPolExDir8 karma

Legalizing marijuana ends the unjust and wasteful policy of arresting, prosecuting, and even incarcerating American adults who choose to use a substance that is safer than alcohol.

rickmuscles1 karma

Overall, do you think the Trump administration being against legal marijuana will help in the long run? People seem to be against anything he is for.

MarijuanaPolExDir4 karma

We would prefer if the Trump administration supported sensible public policies on medical marijuana and legalization.