The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Whether you consume cannabis or not, you’ve seen the news. Jeff Sessions has repealed the Cole Memo, which effectively protected state-legalized medical and recreational cannabis from federal prosecution. This hands-off approach has allowed the cannabis market to flourish over the past five years since its implementation, including large influxes of capital investments. But how will this affect us—the advocates, consumers, growers, business owners, medical patients, and occasional tokers? Are we still going to be able to buy our cannabis? Are we going to start seeing raids again?
Back to Busting In Doors?
While it’s tough to say exactly how this will play out, it’s clearly put fear into business owners in the cannabis marketplace. It seems, at least on the surface, casual consumers legally purchasing quantities within state-allotted amounts shouldn’t have any concerns. As dictated in Sessions’ minimal explanation yesterday, the Justice Department continues to focus on many of the same goals for their War on Drugs. They vow to “[D]isrupt criminal organizations, tackle the growing drug crisis, and thwart violent crime across our country.” Your weekly bong-a-thon doesn’t land on that list, unless you’ve somehow been incorporating a violent distribution network into your smoke sessions. Much like the early days of the California medical marijuana system, if the feds are coming for anyone, it’s worth more money to go for the big operations in plain sight: the legal ones.
As to the large cannabis operations and store fronts, so far every legal state has come forward in defense of their existing statutes and operations, not to mention the indispensable billions of dollars in revenue generated annually within the regulated marketplace. Considering the Justice Department already lacks funding, hence the initial memorandum in the first place, it seems unlikely they would directly attack a source of funds. Similarly, federal agencies regularly rely on state and local authorities to execute raids, shut-downs and more. With state officials unwilling to cooperate, the already-expensive raids are likely unattainable without Congress allocating specific funding to carry them out. With congressional members facing reelection—and, contrary to popular belief, they do have to please their constituents some of the time—this could sway the tides politically, as well as socially. Both sides of the aisle have a majority of their constituents in favor of legalization, at least for medical use. Sessions quite literally picked a fight with the American people.
Sessions’ relationship with cannabis is tenuous, to say the least. From his racist statement that the he thought the KKK was “okay” until he found out they consumed “pot” to his comparison of cannabis to heroin, he’s not only uneducated about the subject—he’s clearly ignorant. Sessions has mentioned that while he has every intention of coming after cannabis (because people who consume marijuana aren’t good people, you see), it is Congress’ job to change the laws around cannabis if they believe them to be unjust. He’ll (allegedly) let his crusade die if the laws are changed. Somehow, I feel like he won’t go down without a fight.
Depending on the reaction from Congress, which has thus far been in favor of states’ rights, Sessions’ move could force their hand in the national legalization debate. Though a bevy of questions remain as to what national legalization would look like, we could potentially see our dreams (and Sessions’ nightmares) comes true sooner than anticipated.
All we can do now, unfortunately, is wait to see how each of these departments will choose to carry out their renewed powers. We know the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals stands on the side of the West Coast, but time will tell for the rest of us.
Stay tuned for more as we continue to defend our plant from Jeff Sessions.