Se. Jeff Sessions’ State Sponsored Marijuana Conundrum

By: Charles Mockler

With apologies to readers after my (and some other people’s) assumption that Hillary Clinton would be our next PUSA, it is time to dig into what President Trump will or won’t do in regards to not just medical marijuana, but state legalized cannabis as well. Trump himself has said he supports legal access to medical marijuana, and believes states should be able to set their marijuana policies about adult use, which sounds harmless until you realize his first choice for Attorney General is Jeff Sessions, someone who once said: “good people don’t smoke marijuana.” The president-elect has stated that he will delegate more power to those who work in his cabinet than president’s past, meaning Sessions will have a huge say in how states deal (or don’t deal) their legalized marijuana.

In 2013, Deputy Attorney General James M Cole directed prosecutors to tolerate state-regulated marijuana dealers and shift their focus to the criminal enterprise facet of the drug. Paired with an antiquated view on cannabis, Sessions also believes in state sovereignty, something that will make it hard to justify him shutting down legalized marijuana. The fact that Sessions is such an advocate for states rights will help those states which have decided to legalize, but that assistance might be overshadowed if Sessions issues a new directive aimed at shutting down medical marijuana dispensaries or legal pot shops. With a growing number of states legalizing marijuana the federal responsibility to shut down MMJ shops or legal marijuana stores would be much greater now than even just two years ago. On the campaign trail, President Trump advocated for a less bloated federal government, it would be difficult to explain why a voter-backed policy such as legalized marijuana would warrant such attention across the United States inevitably costing taxpayers a lot of money.

Even though marijuana is still sitting in the DEA’s “schedule 1” category it has been voted to be made legal in 28 states (and D.C.), the growing acceptance of marijuana on the state level may just deter Sessions or Trump from shutting down dispensaries. Most people were curious as to why marijuana remains a “Schedule 1” substance, but it may be a blessing that it is still considered as dangerous as cocaine, ecstasy, or heroin. If marijuana had been removed from the “schedule 1” list, Sessions may have had it replaced with stricter outlines for states and the way they would want to legislate or distribute legal marijuana. As it stands now it’s a relief that at least nothing that much worse can happen regarding marijuana legalization, public outcry and an inflated cost associated with shutting down something deemed legal by a state’s citizens should be too much to excuse a mass shut down.

Jeff Sessions may despise marijuana, but his love for state’s rights coupled with Trump’s (alleged) goal of being “ahead of schedule and under budget” should leave a less sour taste in pro-legalized marijuana advocate’s mouths. There is a legitimate concern as to what will happen to some dispensaries and stores, but given the interests of the new administration, any negative action towards those areas will not be for some time. Hopefully Jeff Sessions and President Trump will succumb to their desires for state sovereignty and leave marijuana alone, but even if they were to go on the offensive and attempt to shut down a large number of anything marijuana related, the public backlash and lost revenue would surely give them a reality check as to why state legalization was so popular.