Jeff Sessions was confirmed yesterday as the next Attorney General of the United states. And considering what he’s said in the past about marijuana, the legal cannabis industry could have reason to worry.
In a statement much-repeated by the media in 2016 following President Trump’s nomination of Session, the Alabama senator was quoted as saying in the 1980s that he considered the KKK “OK until I found out they smoked pot.”
As recently as last April, Sessions said that “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” that it was a “very real danger” and “not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized.” The 70-year-old senator also recently referred to legalization laws as a “tragic mistake,” and publicly lambasted President Barack Obama for not taking a hard stance against the substance. (Obama, of course, called the federal ban on marijuana an “untenable” law over the long term.)
But is that just empty talk? Do cannabis supporters really have reason to be worried?
Before confirmation, during the hearing stages, Sessions conceded that “disrupting states’ legal marijuana markets by enforcing federal marijuana laws could create an undue strain on federal resources,” according to a Fortune article.
And in an article by The Cannabist, drug policy expert John Hudak said that while Sessions could rescind the Cole Memo, which provides states with basic guidelines for the legal cannabis industry, it’s likely that the sheer scale of the modern cannabis industry prevents anything further. Says Hudak in the interview:
“The attorney general, the (U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration), the (Federal Bureau of Investigation), do not have the budget or the manpower to physically enforce the Controlled Substances Act nationwide, so it’s not like you could see agents come into every storefront in the United States tomorrow and deal with this. That’s not a reality.”
That coupled with President Trump’s seeming willingness to allow the states to make up their own mind on legal cannabis means that there is hope ahead that the new administration in Washington D.C. will keep out of legal pot.
Photo from CreativeCommons.org