Cannabis policy has gotten a lot more confusing since the election, with Jeff Sessions as the likely nominee for Attorney General. A drug war hardliner from the Regan years, Sessions was once denied a Federal judgeship because of allegations of racism, including a remark about not finding fault with the KKK until he learned of their marijuana use.
The Trump campaign was vague about cannabis leading up to the election. Sometimes he indicated he believed it was a states’ rights issue; at other times, he’s called Colorado’s adult use program “a real problem.” Trump has stated he is “in favor of medical marijuana 100 percent.”
The AG’s role
The Attorney General has played a major role in determining cannabis laws over the past several decades. Advocates frequently credit the Cole Memo with giving states the freedom to pursue adult use policies, but no one in those states has any protection from federal prosecution. As the Washington Post points out, every store owner who has sold cannabis in a legal state has not only violated federal law by trafficking hundreds of pounds of a Schedule 1 controlled substance, but they’ve kept detailed records while doing so.
So what does this all mean? No one knows. Our industry friends seem largely unworried. Cannabis creates too many jobs, raises too much money in taxes. It’s been shown to have too positive an effect on opioid addiction to be rolled back, they say. It will be nearly impossible to shut down medical cannabis, since the Justice Department can no longer spend money prosecuting drug offenders who comply with state law.
Does this mean they’ll turn their attention to adult use sales? And do they have the money, time, and energy to fight California? Neither Bill Clinton nor G.W. Bush could shut down California’s medical program, and adult use is likely to generate a lot more tax revenue. Is an administration that didn’t secure the popular vote going to take on an issue of which an increasing number of Americans are in favor? Only Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump know right now.
“Good people don’t smoke marijuana”
Sessions made it very clear how he feels about cannabis users when he told the Senate in April that Washington needs “grownups” who can “send that message with clarity that good people don’t smoke marijuana.”
It’s an unfortunate statement, but Splimm is relentlessly optimistic. We think Mr. Sessions has been misled, just as many of us have, by years of inaccurate information about both cannabis and its consumers. Surely he doesn’t consider the veterans who use cannabis to treat PTSD to be “bad people.”
What about the parents who voted to legalize marijuana because of its proven ability to reduce overdose deaths? We just want what’s best for our kids. We don’t want them using heroin, and we want them to grow up happy and healthy and committed to hard work, for themselves and for their country. Does that make us bad?
Good People Do
We know it doesn’t, and in this spirit, we’re launching “Good People Do” as regular feature in Splimm. Over the coming months we’ll tell the stories of quality folks who, with the help of cannabis, are able to innovate, heal, create, build, and teach. We’ve met too many great people who use cannabis to have us all lumped back into some kind of reprobate status. By sharing our stories we can change minds; hopefully we can change the right minds.