Many in the cannabis community are worried about what is going to happen if Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions becomes the next Attorney General of the United States. When asked about marijuana at his confirmation hearing, Sessions was generally vague with his answers.
Sessions recently provided written responses to questions some Senators had about cannabis, which was a good opportunity for him to be less vague and more forthcoming about what the Trump Administration’s approach to marijuana is going to be. He did not take advantage of that opportunity.
“While I am generally familiar with the Cole memorandum, I am not privy to any internal Department of Justice data regarding the effectiveness and value of the policies contained within that memorandum… I will certainly review and evaluate those policies, including the original justifications for the memorandum, as well as any relevant data and how circumstances may have changed or how they may change in the future,” Sessions wrote. Translation: I’m going to do what I feel like doing and I’ll let you know what that is when I decide to do it.
To be fair, Sessions doesn’t even have the job yet, so it might be prudent for him to review how the previous Justice Department handled the issue. But it’s disconcerting to many – those who had hoped that Trump’s repeated pronouncements about letting states decide their own marijuana policy would hold sway – that Sessions is deliberately leaving the door open for a crackdown.
“I will not commit to never enforcing Federal law,” Sessions reiterated. “Whether an arrest and investigation of an individual who may be violating the law is appropriate is a determination made in individual cases based on the sometimes unique circumstances surrounding those cases, as well as the resources available at the time.”
A true politician’s answer, leaving the door open for any path he might take toward the legal marijuana industry in the future. I suppose that should be what to expect in this situation and the alternative could be worse: he could come right out and say he will destroy the cannabis industry. But not knowing does little to relieve those with anxiety.
“I echo Attorney General Lynch’s comments [on marijuana being illegal], and commit, as she did, to enforcing federal law with respect to marijuana, although the exact balance of enforcement priorities is an ever-changing determination based on the circumstances and the resources available at the time.” When it comes to Sessions’ policy on marijuana, I think “ever-changing determination” is as apt a phrase as any to describe it …for now.