President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama to be U.S. Attorney General has sent a chill up the spines of many in the emerging cannabis industry.
Many were preparing themselves for someone like Rudy Giuliani. He wasn’t for legalizing marijuana, but they felt he would be pragmatic and recognize the financial benefits that states have been reaping from the tax revenues. Sessions is a passionate anti-marijuana advocate.
As attorney general, Sessions would oversee federal prosecutors and the Drug Enforcement Administration as well as other law enforcement agencies that could come down hard on marijuana businesses, even if they complied with their own states’ laws.
Sessions has spoken out against marijuana a number of times.
He once said, “You can’t have the President of the United States of America talking about marijuana … you are sending a message to young people that there is no danger in this process. It is false that marijuana use doesn’t lead people to more drug use. It is already causing a disturbance in the states that have made it legal.”
He famously said of the Ku Klux Klan that he was okay with them, “until I learned they smoked pot.” Sessions later said he was joking.
“Senator Sessions is clearly out in the deep end when it comes to issues of marijuana policy and he stands diametrically opposed to the majority of Americans who favor the legalization and regulation of marijuana,” said Erik Altieri, executive Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). “This could foreshadow some very bad things for the eight states that have legalized marijuana for adult use and in the 29 states with medical marijuana programs.” Altieri said Sessions could begin blocking ballot initiatives, conduct raids on legal businesses and begin dismantling the legal cannabis industry that has already been established in Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska.