With the first medical cannabis dispensary officially open in Pennsylvania, of course there is a buzz in the state surrounding the legality of the emerging industry. Despite all of the threatening actions and out of touch statements coming from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions regarding legal cannabis, patients and business owners in the Keystone state can rest assured knowing that at least some of their elected officials will protect the rights of the citizens. One of those officials is Pennsylvania state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who defended the medical marijuana program in an interview with KDKA-TV, a CBS affiliate in Pittsburgh.
“It’s my job to uphold the law here in Pennsylvania; and on a bipartisan basis, the legislature passed and the governor signed a medicinal marijuana law that is very popular,” Shapiro told KDKA.
Sessions recently rolled-back a ‘safe haven’ ruling from the Obama administration, which some cannabis advocates fear is essentially removing one layer of protection that kept medical users safe from federal prosecution. With this highly criticized action, Sessions gives federal prosecutors the final word on how marijuana cases are handled in legal states. Thankfully, Pennsylvania U.S. Attorney David Freed says his office will not disrupt access to medical cannabis in Pennsylvania.
“My office has no intention of disrupting Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program or related financial transactions,” Freed said.
But not all politicians in the Keystone state are making reassuring statements regarding the legality of the medical marijuana program. Pennsylvania U.S. Attorney Scott Brady gave a vague statement on the matter, focusing on criminal trafficking instead of addressing the actual issue at hand.
“This office will continue to deploy all prosecutorial tools at our disposal to protect the citizens of western Pennsylvania from those individuals and criminal organizations which traffic in all illegal controlled substances, including marijuana,” Brady said.
Despite the confusion and uncertainty, Shapiro says he will protect and defend medical cannabis patients and parents from federal criminal charges.
“Take a look at my record. I have protected the interests of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from federal overreach. We have sued the federal government. We have defended the rules of our Commonwealth multiple times, and I haven’t lost yet,” Shapiro said.
With all of these politicians making decisions on if, when and how patients can access their plant medicine – one question becomes crystal clear: Shouldn’t the final decision be left up to those paying the politicians’ salaries – the people? We will see if there is any federal interference in this new, confusing landscape that is caused mostly by the actions of Jeff Sessions.