By Daniel McClain
There is a lot of panic in the pro-marijuana community over the Trump-Sessions era. Although President Trump campaigned that he would consider marijuana a states rights issue, Attorney Genereal Jeff Sessions announced that he would “enforce the law” which is that marijuana is illegal. Many people take that to mean the current Department of Justice will stop the legalization of marijuana and that the previous administration was lax on enforcement. President Obama had a reputation of having been good for the legal marijuana industry, but a look at the facts shows that is far from the truth.
In his first term his administration spent over $100 million more and conducted more raids than President Bush’s did in his whole eight years fighting the “legal” pot industry. The Obama administration stayed aggressive by raiding medicinal marijuana dispensaries across the country, taking legal action municipalities that warmed up to the industry, and even attacking the 2nd amendment rights of medicinal marijuana patients. All of this created a huge strain on the pot industry at every level. In his second term, with his party’s power slipping away, the administration wavered back and forth on its enforcement while President Obama himself publically continued to take a state’s rights position. The real end to President Obama’s war on legal pot came when the Republican controlled congress defunded operations aimed at state medicinal marijuana in 2014 which remains in effect to this day.
Conversely, the Trump administration has come off as opposed to marijuana since Sessions is committed to enforcement and President Trump has made negative remarks about recreational marijuana, but their actions are actually quite good for the industry. Recently, the Sessions justice department conducted a large scale operation to shutdown over 100 illegal grow houses in Northern California being run by a Chinese criminal organization. They were caught as 125 wire tranfers totaling $6.3 million were tracked from China to the Sacremento area. The operation is really part of the fight against criminal foreign nationals and illegal immigration. As the government makes these types of busts it forces even black market suppliers to obtain legal product to meet demand. There has been a sharp increase in the amount of legal marijuana crossing state lines via mail and vehicles over the last several years. So, in reality marijuana is still getting to people across the country, but instead of it coming from mostly Mexico, it is mostly and increasingly coming from states where it is legal. Thus, the more illegal production and smuggling are fought more legal product is needed, sold and taxed.
Recently, both Trump and Sessions have clarified their earlier remarks. President Trump has met with Colorado Senator Cory Gardner and committed to back legislation to make the legalization of marijuana a states’ rights issue. Also, Attorney General Sessions has also stated that the DOJ lacks the resources to take on routine cases and will continue to take on drug gangs, smuggling, and larger conspiracies. The fear that this administration would take down the legal pot industry is subsiding and if anything it seems like they will at least gradually help the expansion.
The main battle which will determine the future track of the marijuana industry is the rescheduling issue. In a final blow the Obama era DEA decided not to reschedule late in 2016 just months before the election. So, currently marijuana reamins classified as Schedule 1 which is the federal government saying there is no medical benefit to the substance. Clearly this is incorrect and not scientific. For instance, the CBD chemical in the cannabis plan is known to significantly limit seizures. But, because of this classification there have been limited scientific studies on the chemicals within marijuana and their long term effects and benefits. If the federal government would reschedule marijuana and unleash scientists to discover the true potential of cannabis it would provide a new cash crop that would fuel our economy for generations to come. Unfortunately, our representatives would rather take potshots at people who support the legalization and further study of marijuana.