The marijuana world has been trying to fit its collective head around the results of the 2016 election ever since it occurred. It was a mixed bag, in that there were numerous marijuana reform victories, but America also elected Donald Trump. Believe it or not, there were actually members of the marijuana community that thought that Donald Trump was a great pick from a marijuana policy perspective. I am obviously not one of those people. I have long stated that Donald Trump will say whatever it takes to get elected, but at the end of the day he would not be deciding marijuana policy, the pe0ple he appoints to key positions will be.
I heard a handful of marijuana community members celebrating Trump’s victory after Election Day, but it’s been nothing but crickets from that crowd after the appointment of Jeff Sessions as United States Attorney General was announced. It appears that for pro-Trump marijuana community members, the honeymoon is over, and the taste of reality is bitter. Jeff Sessions hates marijuana. Pro-Trump marijuana community members should have realized what was going to happen before the Sessions appointment was announced because marijuana reform is about so much more than dollars. Marijuana reform is about equality and social justice, and Donald Trump and his team embrace the opposite of that. It made me sad to see people think that having Republicans in office was good for marijuana because Republicans have been considered to be the pro-business party for so many years.
Does Donald Trump like money and support industry? Of course he does. Does that automatically translate into support for the marijuana industry? That’s the line of logic that marijuana community members that were pro-Trump were offering up to media outlets after the election was over. But what that crowd fails to realize is that there are industries out there that hate marijuana, and don’t want to see the marijuana industry succeed because it would harm their industry’s bottom line. And guess what, THOSE INDUSTRIES HAVE THE REPUBLICAN PARTY IN THEIR BACK POCKET! Gasp. Shocker. I know. How could marijuana community pro-Trumpers have missed such an obvious fact (insert sarcasm. Sad, painful sarcasm)? Do they honestly think that the Trump Administration is going to go against the will of people like campaign funder Sheldon Adelson? Against the alcohol, prison, and pharmaceutical industries? Seriously?
Many marijuana community members are choosing to look at the part of the cup that is full. That level of complacency is going to doom the marijuana world. Make no mistake, Jeff Sessions will do what he can do disrupt the marijuana movement and industry as Attorney General. Many community members are trying to make it sound like since Jeff Sessions and the feds can’t completely put Pandora back in the box, that there’s nothing to worry about. I agree, there is too much momentum in the marijuana world to bring it to a grinding halt and start moving progress backwards. However, there’s still a bunch of other stuff that Jeff Sessions could do that needs to be on people’s radar now so that they aren’t blind sided, and can do what they can to be proactive.
One thing that the new Administration can do is start enforcing federal law again. The Obama Administration largely took a ‘non-enforcement’ approach to marijuana policy. To be fair, that doesn’t mean that enforcement completely went away, as some media outlets have suggested. Raids continued under the Obama Administration, just as they had during the Bush Administration. I’d expect to see ‘spot raids’ ramp up if/when Jeff Sessions becomes Attorney General.
One of the biggest moves that Jeff Sessions and the Trump Administration could make is making no move at all on things such as deschuling/rescheduling and banking reform. Marijuana supporters were extremely hopeful that reform in those two areas would come at the federal level as early as 2017. With so many victories at the state and local level during the 2016 election it seemed like momentum would push those federal changes over the top. I can’t fathom those things occurring now with people like Mike Pence as Vice President of the United States, and a crazy marijuana opponent like Jeff Sessions as Attorney General.
Jeff Sessions could threaten to sue state regulators and threaten to pull federal funding from states that have marijuana laws in place that conflict with federal law. A lot of people think of SWAT raids when they think of federal interference, and offer up that there just isn’t enough manpower to bust everyone in every legal state that is involved in the marijuana industry. That is true. But that’s not the route that the Attorney General’s Office led by Jeff Sessions would do. They would likely sue a handful of state regulators, with some complying with the demands and others being defiant. The result would be mixed, but no less harmful.
I don’t want to paint a doom and gloom picture, as there is still much to celebrate when it comes to marijuana reform. However, that celebration needs to be tempered, and people need to remember that there’s some serious threats on the horizon. The Obama Administration issued the Cole and Ogden memos which largely removed federal marijuana enforcement in states that have voted to legalize. To repeal those memos takes minimal effort for the Trump Administration. With marijuana remaining a Schedule I controlled substance, there’s all types of things that the feds could do to disrupt the marijuana world. None of them can completely reverse the recent progress of marijuana reform, but they sure as hell can make life miserable for many consumer, patients, and business owners. Everyone needs to be on red alert and be ready to mobilize both in person and on the net at a moments notice!