Last week, the Sean Spicer told reporters to expect “greater enforcement” with respect to how the federal government handles legal weed. It seems to signal a coming crackdown on marijuana. Since then, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has come forward to suggest that the cultivation and sale of marijuana is not likely to be tolerated in the United States.
“I’m dubious about marijuana. I’m not sure we’re going to be a better, healthier nation if we have marijuana sold at every corner grocery store,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Tuesday, according to The Hill.
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The White House, however has not given a definitive answer over whether the Department of Justice will honor former President Obama’s plan (Cole Memo) to take a hands off approach to legal marijuana.
It is no secret that Sessions is not a fan of the Cole Memo, but he has at least admitted that parts of it are of some value. Still, the only thing he has felt confident enough to say on the matter is, “We’re going to look at it…and try to adopt responsible policies,” perhaps signaling the possibility of revisions.
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Last year, four more states — California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada — legalized the leaf for recreational use, bringing the nationwide total to eight.
In Colorado, which was one of the first jurisdictions in the nation to establish a taxed and regulated pot market, the state saw more than $1 billion in overall sales last year. Governor John Hickenlooper, a man who opposed legalization in the very beginning, said recently that he is “getting close” to giving legal weed his full support. He does not believe the Trump Administration should be considering any crackdown.
“I think it’s the wrong time to pull back from this experiment, and if the federal government’s going to come and begin closing in and arresting people that are doing what’s legal in different states, my god, it creates a level of conflict that’s going to be very difficult,” Hickenlooper told MSNBC.
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, who also opposed legalization, said that federal interference in state-level legalization “is going to raise some legal issues.”
There is some hope that the dread surrounding the Justice Department’s intentions for legal weed may inspire Congress to finally take action on the issue. After all, Sessions said during his confirmation hearing that he would adhere to any law established by Congress.
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“I think one obvious concern is that the United States Congress made the possession of marijuana in every state and distribution of it an illegal act,” Sessions said. “So if we need to…if that’s something [that] is not desired any longer, Congress should pass a law to change the rule. It is not so much the Attorney General’s job to decide what laws to enforce. We should do our job and enforce laws effectively as we are able.”
In short, while the cannabis community is fired up at President Trump and AG Sessions over this debacle, it is really the fault of Congress for not establishing a federal standard a long time ago. As it stands, the billion-dollar cannabis industry is really only being held together with spit and duct tape.