AG Jeff Sessions is a huge asshole. That's just my opinion. You don't have to agree with me about that, but there is one thing you should agree with me about. The federal government is sticking it's huge ugly nose where it doesn't belong.
See, here's the thing: Whatever your feelings are about marijuana, it's been legalized for medical and recreational use in some states by THE PEOPLE. That means that people voted for what they wanted. In other words, the people have spoken. If the government comes into each "marijuana legal" state and tries to reverse that, they are basically shitting on the people.
I'm not a big fan of former President Barack Obama, but one thing I respected that came out of his administration was the Cole Memorandum.
The Cole Memorandum
In order to understand why this latest move by Jeff Sessions is so fucked up, you need to know what The Cole Memorandum is.
This Leafly article puts it best:
The Cole Memo was a document originally drafted by former US Attorney General James M. Cole in 2013. Cole issued a memorandum to all US attorneys that was published through the Department of Justice on August 29, 2013. The memo indicated that prosecutors and law enforcement should focus only on the following priorities related to state-legal cannabis operations:
- Preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors;
- Preventing revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs and cartels;
- Preventing the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal under state law in some form to other states;
- Preventing state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs or other illegal activity;
- Preventing violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana;
- Preventing drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use;
- Preventing the growing of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by marijuana production on public lands; and
- Preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property.
It was modeled after a similar memorandum issued by Deputy Attorney General David Ogden in 2009 that directing US attorneys to “not focus federal resources in your states on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing laws providing for the medical use of marijuana."
Basically, the Cole Memo was what was allowing the marijuana industry to flourish the way it has. On January 3rd, 2018, AG Sessions rescinded the memorandum, effectively undoing the Obama-era policy to let the states manage their own marijuana legalization policies.
Trump's Stance On Marijuana Legalization
The aspect of this that is totally mind blowing is that one of Trump's campaign promises was that he was going to leave marijuana legalization up to the states. He responds to the question in the video below.
It makes you wonder why he would appoint Jeff Sessions as his Attorney General. Surely he must have had some idea of where Sessions stood on the subject.
And one can't make the argument that Trump didn't see this coming, as Sessions' intentions were well known as far back as February of 2017, or maybe even sooner. Even when he was a senator, he criticized the Cole Memo for being "too lenient."
In fact, nobody should really be surprised about any of this, because in February of 2017 when Sessions convened his Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety, it was assumed that this was going to be Sessions' first salvo against the states who legalized marijuana for recreational use.
According to this Slate article written by Mark Joseph Stern:
Sessions stacked the task force with federal prosecutors and law enforcement officers, who were expected to endorse an assault on the cannabis industry in states that have signed off on recreational marijuana use. But on Friday, the AP got ahold of the task force’s recommendations and revealed that they weren’t draconian at all. Rather, the group suggested maintaining the current compromise between states and the feds that has allowed marijuana reform to flourish.
In a nutshell, the prosecutors and law enforcement officers on the task force went against Sessions, and advised him to leave the current system in place, and allow the states to carry out their own marijuana reforms.
What Does This Mean For The Marijuana Industry?
Right now, it's just stirred up the industry a bit. This means that we currently don't know what, if any, long term repercussions this is going to have.
Many state legislators and lawmakers are taking a rebellious stance, scoffing at Sessions' actions and stating that they will try as hard as they can to make sure nothing changes.
This Time article quotes a couple of experts:
Sam Kamin, a marijuana law expert at the University of Denver, says that the changes may essentially give U.S. attorneys around the country “unfettered discretion” to bring cases, but that “it’s not clear how those U.S. attorneys would exercise that discretion.” Michael Vitiello, a criminal law expert at the University of the Pacific, emphasizes that Justice Department resources remain limited and believes that issues like immigration and opioid misuse will remain higher priorities.
The announcement has also caused Cannabis stocks to plunge, as many people are selling off. This Markets Insider article reports that Cannabis related stocks may be down as much as 35%!
Some of the largest drops:
- Terra Tech, the largest US pot stock with a $407 million market cap, was down 35% on the news.
- Cannabis Science was also down 35% on the news.
- Medical Marijuana Inc was down 22.74% on the news.
- Canopy Growth, the largest Canadian marijuana stock, was trading down about 9%.
- Aurora Cannabis plummeted 13% on the news and was trading down roughly 8% mid-morning.
What Do Other Politicians Think?
I've done quite a bit of research, and watched several videos, and from what I can see, many US senators, congressmen and women, and state legislators are NOT happy about it.
I think Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) said it best.
I think that many Steemians will understand my point of view best. This is WRONG on so many levels!
It seems like every day the government is succeeding in controlling our lives more and more. We are losing our freedom at a rapid pace, and many people are oblivious to it. I'm not conspiracy theorist, but I have to ask myself why Jeff Sessions is taking such a hardline stance against legalized marijuana.
One of the main theories is that Sessions owns stock in privatized (for profit) prisons, and would benefit by the arrests being made over marijuana. However, this has been proven untrue, as Sessions was required to provide a full account of his financial holdings, and there were no ties to any privatized prisons found. However, two former aides of Sessions became lobbyists for some of the largest stakeholders in the private prison industry — and Sessions' support for private prisons goes back more than two decades.
President Trump, on the other hand, did receive substantial campaign contributions from GEO Group, one of the nation’s largest for-profit prison operators. Could this have anything to do with it? I don't think so. I think Jeff Sessions just hates weed and everyone who smokes it. That's an awful lot of people to dislike!
All I can say is that maybe the guy is just a prude. Maybe he's too old and out of touch to hold the very important position of trust that he holds.
Want to know what others think? Here are some of the more interesting Tweets on the subject:
As you can clearly see, people aren't happy. Of course, on the flip side, I'm sure there are loads of people who are happy about it. These are the people who don't know how to have a good time and can't mind their own business!
I'm simply hoping that people don't just lay down for this. Remember, it's about more that a person's right to smoke pot. It's about a person's right to the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness!
Please comment and let me know what YOU think!