HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said federal action to continue criminalizing marijuana despite the state’s legalizing of the drug for medical purposes amounts to a threat and an overstepping of authority.
“Attorney General (Jeff) Sessions' directive has the potential to thwart Pennsylvania’s law, which provides medicinal marijuana to those in need including cancer patients, children with epilepsy and veterans with post-traumatic stress syndrome,” Shapiro told the Pennsylvania Record in a statement.
“It is an attempt by the Trump Administration to unilaterally defeat the will of Pennsylvanians.”
In April 2016, Gov. Tom Wolf signed a medical marijuana law that permits the use of the drug for patients suffering from illnesses including cancer, Parkinson’s disease, autism and more than a dozen others based on the approval of a licensed doctor.
The use of recreational marijuana continues to be illegal in Pennsylvania. States allowing recreational use of the drug include California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Hawaii.
Earlier this month, Sessions removed a leftover policy from the Obama presidency that prevented federal authorities from restraining suppliers of pot in the states where its use is legal. Instead, under new directives, federal prosecutors will decide how to handle cases in which federal marijuana laws contradict state law.
Shapiro, a 44-year-old Democrat, pledged to honor the rights of Pennsylvanians on the marijuana issue.
“It is my sworn duty to uphold the law of the (Pennsylvania) Commonwealth and I will continue to do so,” he said.
Shapiro said there are other more serious matters the federal government should involve itself with.
“Pennsylvania faces a serious heroin and opioid threat that is ravaging our communities,” he said. “I will continue to partner with my federal law enforcement colleagues to confront that real crisis.”