It is U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ half-cocked desire to unleash a new drug war against states that have ended pot prohibition on their own terms that could ultimately push Congress to legalize marijuana nationwide, according to a recent opinion by the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board.
“Good job, Jeff Sessions!” the Board wrote in a piece published early Monday morning. “It seems the attorney general’s misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect — prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legalize cannabis.”
The Times believes that a measure introduced weeks ago by U.S. Senators Cory Gardner and Elizabeth Warren called STATES bill (Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States), which is designed to end federal controls over marijuana, stands a fighting chance at being pushed through the legislation grind on Capitol Hill because President Trump recently indicated that he would “probably” sign it.
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“We’re looking at it,” Trump told reporters prior to the G-7 summit in Canada. I “probably will end up supporting” the bill.
It is this — the President’s newfound pledge of allegiance to legal weed — that the Times feels could be the tripping point for this issue. After all, Trump is the first president in American history to say he would consider making weed legal all across the United States if given the opportunity. Not even former President Obama went that far.
“This isn’t the first bill in Congress proposing to ease federal restrictions on marijuana It is, however, the first that has a chance of passing and the potential support of the president,” the Board wrote. “It’s the most promising effort to date to do away with the contradiction between federal law and the laws passed in recent years by California and other states to move marijuana sales from the black market into a legal, regulated and taxed system. That would be an extraordinary step forward.”
“And for this, we can thank Sessions,” The Board continued, pointing to the attorney general’s decision earlier this year to rescind an Obama-era memo that allowed states to experiment with legalization, not to mention his directive to increase federal prosecutions for pot-related business. All of his attempts to tighten the American standard toward drugs, starting with his willingness to throw a wrench in statewide marijuana legalization, has brought the issue more into the mainstream and, in turn, drummed up the kind of support that is needed for the law to change.
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In spite of all this, however, President Trump could end up supporting nationwide marijuana legalization simply to get the upper hand in a petty dispute. The Board suggests the riff between Trump and Sessions over the Russian investigation could be what ultimately inspires the president to support pot reform in ink.
“It would be ironic if Trump’s irrational anger at the attorney general is what finally pushes the federal government to adopt a rational policy on marijuana,” The Board wrote. “Whatever the motivation, Congress ought to take advantage of the moment.”
It ought to, but it probably won’t. Regardless of all the noise surrounding the marijuana legalization issue, there is still not enough support in Congress. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who controls whether the STATES bill receives a hearing, recently told reporters that he has no plans to support a measure aimed at legalizing marijuana.