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Montana federal prosecutor warns of dangers of pot legalization ahead of vote

PoliticsOct 19, 2020 09:50PM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Mobile research lab to study effects of cannabis in Colorado

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Montana's top federal prosecutor is urging voters to tread carefully before voting to legalize recreational marijuana, taking the unusual step of jumping into a political debate about a ballot initiative in the weeks before the election.

In an op-ed published in several newspapers in recent days and posted on the Justice Department's website on Monday, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme told voters they should "review in detail" a pair of ballot initiatives that would legalize cannabis for adults ages 21 and older, warning that marijuana is addictive, could lead to more traffic accidents and could even "increase the risk of severe complications from COVID-19."

Smoking, whether marijuana or tobacco, could increase risk of severe COVID-19 due to potential for lung inflammation.

Montana is one of five states this November voting on eight initiatives to legalize marijuana for medical or recreational use. Dozen of other states have already legalized the drug, though marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

Although former Attorney General Jeff Sessions in 2018 rescinded an Obama administration policy that had eased enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states that legalized the drug, cannabis experts say federal prosecutors have largely since left marijuana businesses alone as long as they complied with state laws.

The Justice Department has increasingly come under scrutiny for some of its messaging ahead of the 2020 election, with Attorney General William Barr repeating claims by President Donald Trump, without evidence, that there could be widespread fraud with mail-in ballots.

Some former prosecutors said they felt Alme's decision to weigh in on a state ballot question before the election may have crossed the line.

"It is highly unusual and improper for a U.S. Attorney to weigh in on political questions," said Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.

William Nettles, the former U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina, agreed, calling it "an abuse of authority" and "abnormal behavior."

A spokeswoman for Alme's office, Clair Johnson Howard, said in a statement to Reuters that the op-ed "was intended to educate voters on an issue that significantly impacts the enforcement of federal criminal law and is a topic about which U.S. Attorney’s Offices have much information.”

Montana federal prosecutor warns of dangers of pot legalization ahead of vote
 

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Comments (6)
Chris Chan
Chris Chan Oct 20, 2020 8:33AM ET
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That means that politian is not getting his bribe money from ****companies.
dp dp
dp dp Oct 19, 2020 10:01PM ET
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cannabis industry doesn't "pay" politicians like alcohol industry..budweiser isn't american anymore but U.S. has best ******
Kaveh Sun
Kaveh Sun Oct 19, 2020 9:52PM ET
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Anything makes u ‘happy’ ie high is addictive. Alcohol is addictive. If they have a tool to detect a person high or not instantly like alcohol, why not. Right now they dont, so if a high person DUI, u cant tell.
Bill Hoerter
Bill Hoerter Oct 19, 2020 9:09PM ET
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C'mon Man... You know who the Big Guy is..Tired of corupt politicians.Term limits for Congressman 10 years and 12 years for Senators. Supreme Court Justices limited to 25 years and must give 5 year notice for retirement.
Charles Schultz
Charles Schultz Oct 19, 2020 7:54PM ET
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addictive to those who want to save money and not get hooked on pills and the other bad side effects that pharmaceuticals have.
Jeff Paper
Jeff Paper Oct 19, 2020 6:26PM ET
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Marijuana is addictive?
 
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