Illustration by James the Stanton

Illustration by James the Stanton

Sessions Begins to Open the Door for Prosecution

What is the Attorney General smoking?

On January 1, the state of California, the 6th largest economy in the world, legalized recreational cannabis. Three days later, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rolled back Obama-era protections that instructed federal authorities on how to proceed with cannabis arrests in states that were in the process of legalizing weed. While no laws have changed, this basically shifts U.S. policy from hands-off to open season for federal prosecutors across the country. Sessions called the move a “return to the rule of the law.”

The fact that Sessions is not stoked on cannabis is no secret. The AG has made it abundantly clear that he personally does not like the stuff or people who are involved with it for any reason, stating, “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” and previously advocating the death penalty for pot dealers. He spent many hours throughout 2017 in offices with other opponents of legalization, planning various strategies for combating legalization efforts being pursued by individual states.

Back in December, Sessions held a closed-door meeting covering such subjects as cannabis not being a substitute for opiates, the plague of “drugged” driving, and ways the Food Drug Administration might get involved in the conversation. Before booting reporters from the meeting, he gave this Trumpian doublespeak quote: “I do believe, and I’m afraid, that the public is not properly educated on some of the issues related to marijuana. And that would be a matter that we could, all of us together, maybe be helpful in working on and that would allow better policy to actually be enacted.” What?

It’s an increasingly hypocritical stance coming from a political party that insists on the primacy of states’ rights. It’s also not a unified stance. Republican Senator Cory Gardner tweeted at 7 a.m. the morning of the announcement: “This reported action directly contradicts what Attorney General Sessions told me prior to his confirmation. With no prior notice to Congress, the Justice Department has trampled on the will of the voters in CO and other states. … I am prepared to take all steps necessary, including holding DOJ nominees, until the Attorney General lives up to the commitment he made to me prior to his confirmation.”

Understandably, the cannabis industry collectively flinched when the news was announced. Currently, the cannabis industry provides more than 150,000 jobs and contributes almost $7 Billion to the GDP, adding hundreds of millions of dollars to state’s budgets. Still, even with the Obama-era protections in place, producers and sellers still faced a wide variety of challenges traditional manufacturing and sales. Jim Cole, the original author of the Cole Memo that outlined the more lenient policies, said in an interview with CNN that he sees the industry’s “level of comfort” going down, with investors being warier of getting involved.

Governor Jay Inslee stated, “I am especially frustrated that this announcement comes after Sessions has refused offers from Attorney General Ferguson and myself to meet with him to discuss these policies in person after he has disregarded the input that we and other state leaders have provided to his department.” In fact, Sessions has refused to meet with our governor, our legislative leaders, and our state’s Attorney General.

Former AG and current Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan released a statement as well, proclaiming, “Let’s be clear: Our Seattle Police Department will not participate in any enforcement action related to legal businesses or small personal possession of marijuana by adults. Federal law enforcement will find no partner with Seattle to enforce the rollback of these provisions.”

More in Eat Drink Toke

A Different Kind of Dumpling

At Jiaozi!, unexpected flavors await.

I Do(obie)

How to marry the love of your life with your love of cannabis.

Legislature Lifts Outdated Restrictions on Food Trucks

How a Vashon Island food truck owner/operator helped end old brick-and-mortar limitations.

Photo by Nicole Sprinkle 
                                Persian beet salad at The Shambles.
Raising the Bar

The Shambles wants you to feel good, and eat and drink well—without acting like it matters too much.

Talkin’ ‘Bout Terpenes!

The aromatic organic hydrocarbons give cannabis strains their smells, flavors, and so much more.

The Opla Vietnam tops the menu. 
                                Photo by Nicole Sprinkle
Café Opla’s Eggcellent Vietnamese-Inspired Brunch

The tiny Alaskan Way spot serves up individual skillets of eggs with tasty bells and whistles.

Mary Jane and Aunt Flo

For people who suffer from cramps, cannabis could be a vital source of relief.

Hash Gets Hacked

A change in tracking companies has left Washington’s cannabis industry exposed.

Photo by Suzi Pratt for Salt and Straw
10 Things to Know Before You Go to Salt and Straw

The beloved Portland-based ice cream shop finally opens its Seattle outposts.

Photo by Conner Knotis 
                                Jerk Shack’s jerk chicken.
Bring on the Jerk

Finally, the Caribbean stakes a spot in Seattle thanks to Jerk Shack.

Dennis Peron. Illustration by James the Stanton
The Cannabis Community Mourns Activist Dennis Peron

The grandfather of medicinal marijuana was 72.

Touch Down in Kerala, India via Kirkland

It’s 30 minutes east of Seattle, but Kathakali boasts some of the best Indian food in the area.