Jeff Sessions: Reviving The War On Cannabis
After the legalization of Cannabis in California on January 1, 2018, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the administration would withdraw the Cole Memo, which provided some protection for state-level marijuana businesses from federal intervention, and other guidance related to marijuana policy. Advocates predict it will set back their movement, but the full implications of the changes aren’t known yet. In some respects, the move isn’t a total surprise, given Sessions’s longtime opposition to marijuana legalization, which worried advocates as soon as he was nominated to run the DOJ.
Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, is an American politician and lawyer and the 84th Attorney General of the United States, in office since 2017. He is a former federal prosecutor and has long been a vehement opponent of marijuana legalization and an outspoken advocate for strict enforcement of drug laws. He previously said that “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” and spent much of 2017 meeting with opponents of legalization and reviewing the Obama-era policies that enable states to legalize Cannabis.
Sessions said in a statement, “Today's memo on federal marijuana enforcement simply directs all U.S. Attorneys to use previously established prosecutorial principles that provide them all the necessary tools to disrupt criminal organizations, tackle the growing drug crisis, and thwart violent crime across our country,"
Under the Cole Memo, federal prosecutors were instructed to only pursue cases that involved flagrant violations of state law. There are eight criteria states had to meet to avoid federal interference into state-legal marijuana.
Preventing the distribution of Marijuana to minors.
Preventing revenue from the sales 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.
Preventing Marijuana possession or use on federal property.
Executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), Erik Altieri, warned that the move by Sessions “flies in the face of sensible public policy and broad public opinion,” and imperils an industry estimated to be worth $16 billion.
“The American people will not just sit idly by while he upends all the progress that has been made in dialing back the mass incarceration fueled by marijuana arrests and destabilizes an industry now responsible for over 150,000 jobs,” Altieri said. “Ending our disgraceful war on marijuana is the will of the people and the Trump Administration can expect severe backlash for opposing it."
The only good thing that may come out of this move is having a new law in place to remove Cannabis as a schedule 1 drug and this depends on the Congress/Senate and has nothing to do with the Attorney General which is only responsible for implementing the law. Since the Cole Memo has been withdrawn, lawmakers should have a new law in place to protect the progress that the Cannabis Industry had accomplished over the years. In a recent study 70% of Americans are pro legalization and think that the efforts to pursue Marijuana charges are just a waste of the Government’s resources that can be used for other projects/progress such as paying off the Government’s debt, improving public health care, building new schools, etc.