The Washington Post has reported that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has reversed Obama-era directives that discouraged the enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states that already legalized recreational pot. Sessions has commented that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.” During the presidential campaign, Sessions would not make a definitive statement regarding what his policy would be toward legalized marijuana, and Donald Trump said on the campaign trail that “it’s a state issue; I think that we should leave it up to the states.” Well, the states have spoken. In fact, eight of them and the District of Columbia have voiced their opinions loudly at the polls.
The people of Alaska, California, Colorado, D.C., Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington have made it clear what they want. Let’s not forget about the ridiculous amount of revenue in the form of taxes that has been generated from the pot industry or the jobs that have been created. These jobs include people who work in the dispensaries, the cultivation process and the entrepreneurs who are expanding the business and investing in economic development. All of this could be in jeopardy and affected by Sessions’ decision.
Sessions said in a statement, “this 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 the country.” This begs the questions: Is a legitimate business such as a marijuana dispensary, which has paid tens of thousands of dollars in state taxes, considered a criminal organization? Is creating an industry that employs thousands of people and encourages economic development considered a growing crisis? Is saving millions of dollars on enforcement, prosecution and incarceration a bad idea? Is generating money for public schools and infrastructure a bad idea?
The legalization of marijuana seems to be looking more like a fast-moving river. By channeling the money produced through the regulated and legalized marijuana market, we can not only save money but generate money as well.
Let’s hope that AG Jeff Sessions can come around and swim with the current.