Speculation continues about what anti-pot U.S. Attorney General nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions could mean for the legal marijuana industry. The Associated Press says cannabis has the upper hand but could still collapse. Fortune says smaller companies, already dealing with larger competitors, can expect more pain.
Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee say Sessions will get an contentious confirmation hearing.
An op-ed in the Wall Street Journal says Sessions is not a racist, and in fact championed the end of sentencing discrepancies between cocaine, associated with affluent whites, and crack, which devastated inner cities. President Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act into law in 2010. Sessions later said that by granting clemency retroactively to non-violent drug offenders, Obama was abusing the law.
D.C. pot-activists were received warmly at Sessions office but didn’t leave feeling especially reassured. Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D.-N.Y.) aides weren’t as welcoming. “So typical that you are taking this less seriously than Republicans,” an activist said. The whole piece, in USNews, is worth a read, and funny too.
President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, Rep. Tom Price (R- Ga.), is another staunch prohibitionist who, if confirmed, would have the authority to interfere with state-legal MED access.
I wrote a story for California Sunday about efforts in Oakland to create a diverse cannabis industry. The photos are by Pulitzer winner Preston Gannaway.
President Obama discussed legalization at length in an interview with Rolling Stone, conducted the day after the election:
I’ve been very clear about my belief that we should try to discourage substance abuse. And I am not somebody who believes that legalization is a panacea. But I do believe that treating this as a public-health issue, the same way we do with cigarettes or alcohol, is the much smarter way to deal with it. Typically how these classifications are changed are not done by presidential edict but are done either legislatively or through the DEA. As you might imagine, the DEA, whose job it is historically to enforce drug laws, is not always going to be on the cutting edge about these issues.
[Laughs] What about you? Are you gonna get on the cutting edge?
Look, I am now very much in lame-duck status. And I will have the opportunity as a private citizen to describe where I think we need to go. But in light of these referenda passing, including in California, I’ve already said, and as I think I mentioned on Bill Maher’s show, where he asked me about the same issue, that it is untenable over the long term for the Justice Department or the DEA to be enforcing a patchwork of laws, where something that’s legal in one state could get you a 20-year prison sentence in another. So this is a debate that is now ripe, much in the same way that we ended up making progress on same-sex marriage. There’s something to this whole states-being-laboratories-of-democracy and an evolutionary approach. You now have about a fifth of the country where this is legal.