What storm is brewing in the pot, or is it just a storm in a teacup? Many marijuana advocates are apprehensive of President-elect Donald J. Trump’s nominee for the post of attorney general, Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III.
Will Sessions change his view on marijuana once he is appointed attorney general? Not likely.
Politician.com looks into the possible legal outcome if Sessions becomes the US’s highest authority on law in the nation’s top law enforcement job. His reputation as an outspoken and blatant supporter of the “war on drugs” and prohibition of marijuana is no secret.
No one has to guess where he stands on the states legalizing medical or recreational marijuana. Sessions made it very clear that he believes marijuana is very dangerous. He definitely doesn’t like people who use it, and has said that “good people” certainly don’t.
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Marijuana a “tragic mistake”
Sessions has called the reform on marijuana a “tragic mistake” undoing decades of hard, successful work on “the war on drugs” despite statistical evidence that proves the war on drugs did not reduce the incidence of drug use.
Sessions has not made his plans on marijuana enforcement public, but if he chooses, he could act fast and decisively. His other top agenda items, such as combating illegal immigration, or giving slack on police force errors, and federal civil rights laws, will all take time in comparison.
With as little as a stroke of a pen, Sessions, as the new attorney general, could arrest growers, sellers, or users. He would not have to take the vote of more than half of the citizens of America on medical marijuana into account.
How will Sessions resist?
Could Sessions resist the power he now has? And what chaos would it cause in the $6.7 billion industry already attracting the interest of those at Wall Street?
The most frightening part of this potential nightmare is that up till now, there has been no sign that Congress will go to any trouble whatsoever to stop or question the Sessions nomination.
Members who have in the past supported protection of states against federal interference are still supporting the Sessions appointment. For example, Republican Representative from California, Tom McClintock commented that Sessions is a strict constitutionalist, and believes in the rule of law. He expects Sessions will respect the privilege of states to make their own laws regarding their state commerce. We hope that he is right!
Regression to the Reagan era
Legalization proponents are in a panic that the Reagan era might return in a flash through the attorney general’s office, and decades of progress could be wiped out in no time.
Representative Democrat from Colorado, Jared Polis, says the federal government has the power to damage state economies, erase entrepreneurship, putting innovators behind bars, and erode the rights of states, all in one swift blow.
Is there any defense for states?
In the past, lawmakers tried to give states more protection, to no avail. The Cole memo lacks the force of law, as it is just a memo. The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment was passed twice by the House, but has expired, and is not yet law of the land. Thomas Massie, Kentucky Representative, and sponsor of a bill in protection of industrial hemp programs, considers it a mockery of democracy.
Cannabis may yet again be in the eye of the storm. However, we can be sure that states will fight for their autonomy when matters such as medical cannabis are debated. One thing is certain: we can’t expect any softening of the federal standpoint on cannabis under Sessions.