While so much of the marijuana industry doesn’t know what to expect from the Trump Administration, Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition are more optimistic. Thanks to recent moderate comments by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and checks and balances in the U.S.’s system of government, the group believes good lay ahead for the cannabis industry.
“The confirmation of Senator Jeff Sessions as attorney general is an opportunity to spur congressional action on marijuana reform,” Hunter White, Communications Director for Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition (RAMP), tells THCist. “Sessions has had a long and rocky relationship with the marijuana movement, racial issues, and the drug war. His comments that ‘Good people don’t smoke pot’, and actions in the senate to kill Senator Rand Paul’s C.A.R.E.S act have earned him a profoundly negative reputation amongst the marijuana reform movement.”
Things change, according to Mr. White. “This ardent opponent of reform, stanch drug warrior, and friend of civil asset forfeiture return has recently changed some of his most hardline stances.”
That might be more liberal attitudes towards cannabis than many expect. Further, cannabis legalization has come so far that unrolling it would be a costly undertaking.
“The United States Congress has made the possession of marijuana in every state, and distribution of it, an illegal act,” Sessions stated at his confirmation hearing. “If that’s something is not desired any longer, Congress should pass a law to change the rule.” Mr. White cites this as evidence for a change in Sessions’ marijuana tune.
“For close to 20 years, the system of federalism has been stretched to its limits when it comes to marijuana,” Mr. White tells THCist. “In the United States, the Federal government is supreme over the states, and therefore their law is supreme.” Marijuana has been effectively illegal federally for 80 years, Mr. White suggests.
“States have only been able to reform their laws because the federal government has turned a blind eye to the laws they are required to enforce,” he says. “This disregard to legal duties by both political parties is an unacceptable practice. The nominations of Sessions signals that the Department of Justice will no longer be complicit in this tacit disregard to the legal duties they are obligated to perform.”
Despite the view that he has adopted more moderate views, Sessions nomination spurred congressional action. “Legal protections for the medical marijuana states was proposed and passed attached to a federal budget shortly after Sessions nominations,” says Mr. White.
As Sessions confirmation became inevitable, Rep. Griffith, H. Morgan R-Virginia introduced a bill to the House with bipartisan support to reschedule marijuana, and deschedule CBD.
“Sessions call to change the law is already seeing positive results,” the Republican against marijuana prohibition believes. While Sessions conformation is disconcerting to many in the reform movement, things may not turn out so bad after all.
“With twenty-nine full medical states, forty-four states with some kind of medical access, and eight full recreational states including the world’s seventh largest economy (California if it were a separate country) enforcing federal marijuana laws is becoming politically impossible,” Mr. White says. The sheer cost of enforcing federal marijuana policy makes such a strategy nearly impossible.
“Lawmakers and State governments would be outraged if hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars were being spent to take down valuable tax revenue sources, and robust growing local economies,” according to Mr. White. “Indeed, while sessions may be a drug war fossil, society is moving past that mindset and the Trump administration is aware of that.”
“While the conformation of Sessions as Attorney General is an unfortunate event for many in the reform, the political realities limit what risk he could pose,” Mr. White pragmatizes. “His nomination has already begun spurring congressional reform.”
And, of course, Negative public perception of the Trump administration thus far would not be helped by a nationwide crackdown on medical or recreational marijuana.