Well, it was fun while it lasted. While the Obama administration’s commitment to stay out of the way of state-level efforts to legalise marijuana stood mostly unchallenged for the first year of Trump, that might be coming to an end. The US attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is rescinding the policy, paving the way for the Justice Department to annihilate legal weed operations across the country.
It comes just three days after California‘s legal weed regime came into effect, and affects a total of eight states which have legalised marijuana for recreational use.
So here’s the lowdown. Though several states have indeed legalised recreational marijuana use, it’s still illegal on a federal level. All Obama’s administration did was say that they wouldn’t enforce those laws. Basically, they were like “hey, we’re chill as long as you take steps to make sure weed doesn’t get trafficked to states where it’s still illegal, and you make sure kids don’t get their hands on it.”
This could leave many legal weed businesses and users high and dry. Now, federal prosecutors in states where weed has been legalised will have the discretion on how aggressively to enforce federal law. If they go hard, they’ll almost certainly have the backing of Sessions and his crew.
When it comes to drugs, Trump has been focused on opiate abuse, and he’s barely mentioned marijuana at all. He did obliquely address the issue before the election, saying that he thought it was an issue which should be left up to the states. Obviously, it looks like he hasn’t done anything to actually enable that.
— Brandon Rittiman (@BrandonRittiman) July 29, 2016
It’s pretty clear that this is a Sessions crusade – he’s a known weed hater, and considers it as bad as heroin. Back in September, he flagged that he was strongly opposed to legalisation efforts:
I’ve never felt that we should legalise marijuana. It doesn’t strike me that the country would be better if it’s being sold on every street corner. We do know that legalisation results in greater use.
Republican senator Cory Gardner, who represents Colorado – one of the first states to legalise recreational marijuana use – tweeted a condemnation of Sessions’ move, suggesting that it was a contravention of something Sessions told him before his confirmation. It’s possible that Gardner might be particularly sore considering that legal weed is expected to bring about $1 billion in tax revenue to his state.
This reported action directly contradicts what Attorney General Sessions told me prior to his confirmation. With no prior notice to Congress, the Justice Department has trampled on the will of the voters in CO and other states.
— Cory Gardner (@SenCoryGardner) January 4, 2018
It’s definitely a swift kick in the nuts to the numerous libertarians who jumped on the Trump train, despite the fact they should have been clued in by the numerous tinpot dictators and wannabe autocrats who populate the administration. Cheers, guys!