President Trump’s head of the Justice Department has spent the past year threatening to crackdown on the business of legal marijuana. He even petitioned Congress to try and persuade both chambers to bail out of their support for a budget amendment that protects medical marijuana states. But what if all this noise is necessary to the cause?
As crazy as it sounds, Sessions’ war against marijuana could be what accelerates nationwide legalization, according to cannabis business expert Paul Seaborn.
The Obama administration took a hands-off approach to legal weed, but that did not stop the Justice Department from hassling those connected to legal weed. In addition, President Obama had the power to initiate a reschedule of the cannabis plant under the Controlled Substances Act, but never made the move.
So, even while vowing to leave legal marijuana alone, the former president did nothing to ensure the philosophies behind the Cole Memo would be upheld by future administrations.
Then Trump happened. Although the President has not been extremely vocal about his personal position on marijuana since taking over the White House, his attorney general, Sessions, has been playing mind games with the industry. Yet, despite many threats, the DOJ still has not taken any solid action against legal marijuana.
Seaborn, who teaches a marijuana business class at the University of Denver, claims Sessions’ inaction is all the evidence needed to show he isn’t going to interfere with legal weed. What’s more, the controversy could inspire federal lawmakers to get serious about national legalization.
“Based on my research and what I’ve learned while teaching the first US college course on the marijuana business at the University of Denver, I see no reason for supporters of legalization to panic,” he wrote for the Conversation. “In fact, I believe that Sessions may have actually accelerated the process toward federal marijuana legalization.”
As it stands, Sessions has directed federal prosecutors to get tough on drug offenders. Even those busted for weed. But most of these folks do not have any interest in going back in time.
In addition, 19 state attorney generals recently fired off a letter to Congress asking for banking solutions for the cannabis trade. Unlike their big boss in Washington DC, these officials are trying to help the cannabis industry function like any other legitimate business. None of this would be happening if a federal marijuana crackdown were on the horizon.
“The fierce reaction across the political spectrum reaction shows two things: Sessions’ memo is an empty threat and pot’s days as an illegal drug are numbered,” Seaborn wrote.
As the Fresh Toast pointed out last week, Sessions’ new lease on weed appears to be nothing more than psychological warfare. While he hasn’t sent in the troops to bust marijuana growers and sellers in legal states, his words have discouraged investors and other business deals with the cannabis industry.
Yet, his position has brought the marijuana reform movement more into the mainstream. This could be one of the first steps toward establishing a taxed and regulated pot market similar to alcohol and tobacco.
“I believe it will ultimately bring about federal legalization sooner rather than later,” Seaborn concluded.