In a widely viewed win for conservatives, the national vote may inspire Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his federal enforcers to further crack down on weed. Sessions, who considers cannabis comparable to heroin, is fighting to override the rights of states to make their own legal decisions. Despite more states legalizing at an increasing rate, the federal government plans more enforcement.
Federal Marijuana Laws
By month’s end, we should have the results of a federally funded study into whether there are links between marijuana legalization and violent crimes, tasked by Mr. Sessions himself. While we wait, he has already requested that Congress enable the Justice Department to ignore state laws and allow unhindered federal prosecution of medical cannabis.
Naturally, this has created a noticeable divide between Congress members in all political spheres and Attorney General Sessions. Many congressional representatives, democrats and republicans from New Jersey to Kentucky, are fighting to protect the rights of states and allay any insecurities for the multi-billion-dollar weed market with certain stability instead.
However, our attorney general has other ideas for the marijuana industry. In a scene from the 1960s, he would rather it exists illegally, and therefore, under full control and sole discretion of the federal government, and the federal government alone. The law of many states, and very soon all states at current legalization rates, is in direct conflict with the federal version of prosecutorial discretion.
Federal Opposition to Legalizing Marijuana
Sean Spicer, press secretary for the White House, said in February that enforcing federal marijuana laws on recreational weed businesses might get support from the Trump administration. Measures are getting tougher in some states. For example, Legislature in Massachusetts is wants to rewrite the recreational laws that voters approved in November. Such antics are fast becoming many.
Currently, one-fifth of the country lives in a state where marijuana is legal for their adult, recreational use. More than 200 million legally use medical cannabis for a variety of health conditions. There are state-of-the-art stores and dispensaries across the United States where patients can access quality medicine, instead of risking crime in the illegal street corners of the past.
Very few Americans agree with Session’s view that marijuana is the “gateway drug” responsible for all of our social ills, including the already disproval claim that it drives opioid addiction when it actually treats it. Some believe the federal stance on cannabis prehistoric, while supporters steadfastly consider a deliberately altered state escapism and self-destructive, and that recreation is for biking or swimming.
Marijuana Legalization in the United States
The federal government has a provision protecting marijuana businesses in its budget. Called the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, it specifically prohibits the Justice Department from using federal funds to target states permitting the use of medical cannabis. During Obama’s reign, he left states alone to exercise their right to legalization or not, instead focusing on statewide trafficking and drug cartels.
Sessions know his views are unpopular with Congress and the masses at large. Back in March, several senators appealed to him to accept existing policies within individual states. Some are even lobbying for federal acceptance and declassification of weed as an illegal drug for the weed industry, which would allow businesses to use banks and deduct tax for operating expenses in a legal and transparent manner.
Those supportive of marijuana legalization agree that it leads to more regulation, prevents the laundering of money, and makes life on the black market more difficult. To back up such claims, there are studies showing that President Nixon’s war on drugs had devastating consequences for the national citizenry, including fueled racial tensions and inexcusable incarceration rates.
Some think that a federal crackdown on marijuana will not reduce illegal drug trade or use, nor will it provide security to unsafe communities. Instead, an already unjust system will just worsen already persecuted communities, such as the disproportionately high rate of weed arrests among black Americans, or the lack of jobs among most of the United States citizenry.
In 2016, legal cannabis sales equaled $5.9 billion in the United States. By 2021, that figure will more than triple. Experts predict a $19 billion market by then. A February poll showed 71 percent of people against federal involvement in legal states or their right to choose their own marijuana laws, and most do not want a small group of strong-willed individuals imposing their value systems on the entire country.
Cannabis businesses are preparing for a federal crackdown in the near future. Those previously undecided about investing in the market are now even more hesitant about security. They are waiting, for now, to see how the battle plays out, but for the most part, prospects remain bright and most are unconcerned. Politicians are unable to fight the people’s will, as irrational policies consistently prove.