Yesterday, Ethan Andersen surveyed the new state laws decriminalizing marijuana. At the same time, news was breaking that Trump had offered the Attorney General job to Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, who once famously said that he had never had a problem with KKK members until he found out they weren't just burning crosses on the lawns of African-Americans, but also smoking prodigious amounts of marijuana. We asked Ethan to get back with his cannabis industry sources to see how they felt about Trump's latest appointment and what they feel it might mean for their industry. His report:
Sessions, Trump and Marijuana
-by Ethan Andersen
Donald Trump’s appointment of Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions to be the next U.S. Attorney General is suggestive of several things– one, that Donald Trump is attempting to legitimize his presidency through the appointment of staunch, consistently immoderate conservatives to his cabinet, and two, that he’s not passionate about cannabis law reform (which should be a surprise to no one).
While some are optimistic as the continued ability of states to regulate cannabis in-line with their constituents’ feelings on the plant and their respective cultures, cannabis industry leaders seem concerned with the appointment of a consistently anti-marijuana legislator such as Jeff Sessions to a role that will undoubtedly affect the U.S. cannabis industry to a major extent. Here are their thoughts:
Serge Chistov, Business Advisor to Honest Marijuana, a Colorado-based organic cannabis company:
“While I'm cautious to endorse anyone that's failed to take a proactive and progressive stance towards cannabis law reform, I'm hopeful that Sessions will adopt a stance in-line with his libertarian values, allowing individual states to develop their own laws regarding cannabis cultivation and use. Anyone that's spent a modicum of time researching the cannabis industry can attest to the tremendous amount of good that's resulted from legalization, and it would be a terrible mistake for Sessions or any other member of the Trump administration to bring about a reduction in its effectiveness or scope.”
Derek Peterson, CEO of Terra Tech, the first publicly traded cannabis company in the U.S.:
“I believe that President-elect Trump is someone who has a high regard for the 10th Amendment and states' rights. This last election cycle was a huge step forward for the industry and a significant proclamation of what constituents want, which is the regulated and legalized sale of cannabis in the U.S. We would think that all appointments he makes would respect that same stance.
“We now have quantifiable data points coming out of the industry and we know some of the social concerns of the past are not coming to fruition– in fact, we're seeing positive benefits from legalization, both economic and social. Significant taxes are being collected, thousands of jobs are being created, and we are experiencing less opiate abuse in states with regulated cannabis, these being just a handful of the numerous positive benefits we are experiencing around the country as a result of regulation and legalization.”
Aaron Herzberg, Partner & General Counsel at CalCann Holdings, a California-based marijuana real estate/holdings company:
“Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions is the worst pick that Trump could have made for attorney general as it comes to marijuana issues, and this selection bodes very poorly for the Trump administration to adopt a marijuana-friendly policy. It appears that he is intent on rolling back policy to the 1980's Nancy Reagan's 'just say no on drugs' days. He has displayed open hostility to efforts to legalize marijuana, recently stating, earlier this year, that 'good people don't smoke marijuana.' He has been extremely hostile to efforts to legalize both medical and adult use marijuana.
“'You can't have the President of the United States of America talking about marijuana,' Sessions said during a Senate meeting last March. '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.' With the selection of Sessions as Attorney General, the legalization of marijuana both for medical marijuana in 28 states and recreational marijuana in 8 states may be in serious jeopardy.”
Jeffrey Zucker, President of Green Lion Partners, a Denver-based cannabis business strategy firm:
“Senator Sessions has been an opponent of the cannabis in the industry in the past, and generally a proponent of the failed 'war on drugs.' However, should the Senate confirm his position, we're hopeful that the industry's advancement, especially in the most recent election, will lead to his being open minded as to the incredible benefits cannabis is already having on the country and could eventually have on a federal level. Should he ignore the clear will of U.S. citizens, the industry is prepared to fight for patients and citizens' rights to this incredible plant that has improved so many lives.”
|All hail the new Attorney General– will be ramp up the failed “war on drugs?”|
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis