A lot of people in the cannabis industry are afraid that Sessions and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) will target their jobs and businesses, even in states that have legalized recreational and medical marijuana. Many people ask, “How can he supersede state laws and enforce federal law?” Well, there are potentially a few avenues, and it seems the most likely one would be to freeze assets for anyone who potentially has made money from the cannabis industry. Federal law will tend to try and stick its nose into states’ business, if the state disagrees with federal law.
Now, this is where it gets interesting. A lot of states disagree with federal law when it comes to cannabis; and, even in states where cannabis is still illegal recreationally or medically, it wouldn’t be too outlandish to assume that prohibiting cannabis is not very popular in those parts, either. Many Americans have a “live-and-let-live” attitude, and Sessions’ focus on not respecting states’ decisions to decide for themselves is likely to set a lot of people’s teeth on edge. So much so, in fact, that it wouldn’t be surprising to see states trying to prevent federal agents from shutting down state-legal businesses. There’s a lot of tax money on the line, after all, and the cannabis industry helps fund schools, law enforcement and a whole host of social programs in many states that have legalized marijuana. And, as everyone knows, taking a source of income away from government departments is a big no-no in many cases.
Ultimately, it seems that Sessions’ stance may actually help prohibition end more quickly. Why? Quite simply, because people could be more willing to put up a fight to try and protect the decisions they’ve voted for. Indeed, there may be many people out there who don’t agree with the legalization of cannabis, but agree with states’ right to decide their own laws. Sessions sets a bad precedent, and puts to test the current Administration’s dedication to state rights.
Another pair of questions that make themselves more prominent throughout all of this fracas are: “Is critical mass being reached on the issue of cannabis? Are more and more Americans on the side of legalization?” The Gallup Poll here suggests “Yes”, many Americans are. Furthermore, there is a lot of cross-party support for legalization. Yes, Democrats and Independents make up the majority of them, but a lot of Republicans seem to as well. In many ways, it seems that it’s Sessions who is behind the times on this issue, not necessarily the Republican Party itself. Yes, there are many areas where cannabis-based businesses aren’t welcome (much of California wouldn’t be prohibiting them from operation, otherwise), but it does look like most people are supportive of cannabis legalization, and only differ on to what degree it should be legal rather than the overall concept itself.
“So, will Sessions targeting recreational marijuana affect me and/or those around me?” Whilst we don’t see the typical run-of-the mill recreational or medical user cannabis enthusiast being targeted in states where it’s legal, those running businesses might to some extent. Hence why so many have shut down for a few months whilst the licensing procedures and laws start to “line up” properly. Sadly, many are stuck in limbo for now, and it does seem unfair that so many who have fought hard and faced prison to get this plant legalized have to shut up shop and, in some instances, leave the market entirely. For now and at least for the foreseeable future, though, it seems the getting a medical marijuana card might be the safest and easiest way to obtain cannabis legally and without too much hassle throughout California, Oregon, Nevada, Alaska and so on.
Of course, there’s another issue at play here as well, and it’s a highly important one: Sessions’ policies towards cannabis, combined with the punitive taxes many states apply to cannabis, may just be shifting the industry back into the black market again. As stated above already, states won’t like seeing the revenue dry up all of a sudden, and when all’s said-and-done, money talks. Talks so much, in fact, that we don’t see many jurisdictions keeping out cannabis businesses for too long after they see the money it could pump into their communities and the jobs it could provide.
Trying to put the genie back into the bottle will only fulfil the wishes of those who have been growing and distributing cannabis in and out of California for years and even decades. The question for Sessions now is this: does he want to turn back the clock and make it like the bad old days, when many hundreds and thousands of people are locked up for growing, possessing and using a plant which can not only grow in your back garden, but may also have some medical value?