The election of Donald Trump has sent many people into an emotional tailspin, but for those who support marijuana legalization, it’s been more of a roller-coaster. Yes, Trump is a member of the party that has generally be unkind to marijuana legalization; then again, since marijuana doesn’t contain the words “Muslim,” “Mexican” or “China,” he’s generally taken a very New York who-gives-a-shit attitude toward the drug.
So that was the upswing. Now for the big drop: By announcing this morning that Jeff Sessions will be his nominee for Attorney General, he has tapped for the top law enforcement official in America a man who once said that he had no problem with the KKK until he found out they smoked pot.
The hand-wringing has officially begun.
Ian Eisenberg, owner of Uncle Ike’s, says in an email that his major concerns rest on the Cole Memo, a Obama-era Department of Justice policy that, among other things, allowa state-regulated credit unions to do business with marijuana shops. Were the memo to get tossed out, which Sessions could do on day one, credit unions could face serious consequences for doing business with places that deal in federally banned substances.
“[I] Fear the Cole memo will change,” Eisenberg tells us. “We live in a fragile world and if Cole changed the Credit Unions we rely on would have to rethink everything. Salal let’s us operate like a regular business. Without it we would be cash based with no place to deposit funds and that would be beyond problematic.”
Plenty of national voices are weighing in, as well.
The Drug Policy Alliance, a pro-legalization group, put out this statement, in part, this morning:
Sessions, who once said that the Ku Klux Klan was, “OK, until he learned that they smoked marijuana,” has a track record of opposition to marijuana reform. Earlier this year, Sessions spoke out against marijuana legalization in a Senate hearing, and urged the government to send the message to the public that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.” He has also said in a separate hearing that marijuana cannot be safer than alcohol because, “Lady Gaga says she’s addicted to it and it is not harmless.” He is likely to use his power as Attorney General to close down state-legal marijuana and medical marijuana programs.
Sessions is also a proponent of harsh sentences for drug offenses. Sessions was the chief opponent of recent bipartisan efforts to reduce sentences for drug offenses, demagoguing that, “this proposal would provide for leniency for illegal alien drug traffickers,” and voting against the bill in the Judiciary Committee.
“Donald Trump’s decision heralds a return to the worst days of the drug war,” said Bill Piper, Senior Director of Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of National Affairs. “Trump promised to ‘drain the swamp’ but he’s gone to the very bottom of the drug war barrel for this pick.”
“While the choice certainly isn’t good news for marijuana reform, I’m still hopeful the new administration will realize that any crackdown against broadly popular laws in a growing number of states would create huge political problems they don’t need and will use lots of political capital they’d be better off spending on issues the new president cares a lot more about …. A clear majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana and super-majorities across party lines believe that states should be able to implement their own cannabis laws without federal interference. The truth is, marijuana reform is much more popular with voters than most politicians are, and officials in the new administration would do well to take a careful look at the polling data on this issue before deciding what to do.”
Hmm. We’re not sure if a Trump administration will be too interested in what the polls say. Smoke em if you got em, folks.