When President Trump nominated U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a shudder ran through the cannabis world.
Here we are after decades of work, of grassroots organization, endless petitioning, and getting the truth about this remarkable plant’s benefits and untapped potential.
Eight states have legalized marijuana for recreational (and medical) use. Twenty-one have approved it for medical use. Fewer people are going to prison for nonviolent offenses. More people have access to natural medicine that doesn’t leave them catatonic or addicted.
Economically, the cannabis industry totalled $6.7 billion in 2016 and is on track to grow 700% by 2020. (Not to mention the fact that the cannabis industry will create more jobs than manufacturing.
And now Jeff Sessions…
Jeff Sessions and His Marijuana Obsession
It should be a surprise to no one that he is actively trying to sabotage the medical marijuana and legalization movements around the nation.
After all, this is the same guy who pushed for mandatory death sentences for anyone convicted of selling pot twice. Two strikes and you’re dead.
Nevermind that mandatory death sentences are unconstitutional, banned by the Supreme Court in 1987.
Earlier in his career when he was a U.S. attorney, he “joked” that “the KKK was OK until I found out they smoked pot.”
Isn’t that encouraging?
Obviously, Sessions has no love for cannabis. And it’s no secret he resented the Obama administration’s tolerance of states’ rights to decide their own green fate.
So now that he’s in power, what is he doing with it?
Sessions Moves Against Marijuana
President Trump created a special Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety. And in an internal memo, Sessions asked this task force to create a special report reviewing marijuana policies and sentencing, clearly creating overtones meant to intimidate the growing cannabis industry.
This report includes supposedly-incriminating state-specific sections, targeting states that have legalized cannabis. For Washington, the report highlights a 54% increase in marijuana-related poison calls. Interestingly, there is no mention of an increase in marijuana-related deaths.
Because there aren’t any.
This was followed by an ominous letter sent to Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson, as well as a call to Oregon governor Kate Brown.
He also asked Congress to rescind a budget-saving bill that protects medical marijuana from federal prosecution. Congress denied his request, but he continues to push forward, determined to crack down on the cannabis industry.
Now, in his latest move, he’s push to re-establish a civilian asset seizure program without first bringing criminal charges against them. (A move facing bipartisan opposition.) Anyone Sessions believes has assets involved with “illegal” activity, according to his own definition, is a target. Clearly, this has unsettling overtones for the entire cannabis industry.
The Data: A Different Story
Numerous studies and reports contradict Session’s assertion that legal weed causes an increase in crime. In fact, crime often drops.
Denver saw a 2.2 drop in violent crime rates the year after recreational cannabis was legalized.
More than half the states in the union have legalized medical marijuana and crime rates have fallen nationwide.
If Attorney General Sessions and the Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety truly has crime reduction and public safety at heart, perhaps they should be the ones pushing for legalization?
While momentum for legal cannabis continues, we can’t rest on our laurels. Contact your legislators and make your voice heard. Visit the Marijuana Policy Project to learn what you can do. (Your five minutes of effort will help!)