State’s Rights vs. the Federal Government Regarding Pot
As I blog about the legal status of marijuana, the ups and downs feel like a rollercoaster ride. The rules and regulations are conflicting, and rumors of change are confusing.
Let me explain.
On April 13, 2018, President Trump promised Colorado Senator Gardner he would support efforts to protect states that have legalized marijuana.
This jaw-dropping announcement is in direct opposition to the Attorney General’s war on drugs. You may have heard that on January 4, 2018, Jeff Sessions said, “Good people don’t smoke marijuana,” and rescinded the Cole Memo, whose policy shielded legalized marijuana from federal intervention.
Even where states had legalized cannabis, the DOJ was directed to target marijuana businesses, which placed a cloud of uncertainty over the weed industry.
The federal government classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, meaning it has no valid medical purpose. Mr. Sessions’ goal is to crackdown on the budding businesses by closing all marijuana companies, seizing the inventory, and directed federal prosecutors to pursue the most severe penalties for dealing in large quantities of drugs, including the death penalty.
Of course, this approach has had a chilling effect on the cannabis industry.
Mr. Sessions is out of step with most Americans.
A Gallup poll last October found 67% of Americans support marijuana legalization, and the commercial cannabis industry, is projected to exceed $20 billion by 2021.
Senator Gardner (R-Colorado), said, “Since the campaign, President Trump has consistently supported states’ rights to decide for themselves how best to approach marijuana.”
Because Mr. Trump’s stance is tough on drugs, his announcement was surprising. Maybe it shouldn’t have been, given that he is pro-business and seeks to remove restrictive regulations.
Democratic Senator Blumenauer is championing a measure that would prohibit federal law enforcement from using funds to raid recreational marijuana business operating legally under state law, which is permitted in 29 states. This information was reported in a Los Angeles Times article on April 14th: White House Retreats from Pot Crackdown.
Recently, my friend Millie alerted me to an article in the April 11, 2018 edition of The New York Times, which stated that John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio and former speaker of the House from 2011 to 2015, reversed a long-held stance against marijuana. He’s joined an advisory board for a cannabis corporation that operates in 11 states, and tweeted, “my thinking on cannabis has evolved.”
Tom Angell, chair of the pro-pot group Marijuana Majority said, “…Mitch McConnell (Senate Majority Leader, R-Kentucky) endorsed far-reaching cannabis reforms (which) shows just how far the politics of marijuana have shifted.”
Nothing is set in cement.
Until the federal government removes the classification of marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, I believe there will be constant confusion and uncertainty over pot.
“Trump’s pledge to Gardner is a significant and potentially game-changing development, but it does not necessarily mean that Sessions is no longer a threat to licensed cannabis businesses,” said Mike Liszewski, a policy adviser for the Drug Policy Alliance. “The legislation must be drafted sufficiently, so it does not permit Sessions to crackdown on businesses and individuals obeying state law, and then Trump must follow through on his pledge to sign the bill if it reaches his desk. Until then, Sessions remains a threat, albeit an increasingly weaker one.”
Please notice all the obstacles: legislation must drafted, must include protection from the DOJ, and the President must sign the bill.
Like I said: this is a rollercoaster ride, and anything could derail the process at each step.
Thanks for reading.
What do you think? Will President Trump sign the legislation reinforcing States’ rights? Or will Attorney General Jeff Sessions prevail?
Warmest Regards, Michele
P.S. If you’re interested in my novel, Busted, which shows both sides of the drug debate, please click here to go to Amazon.