Friday, April 21, 2017

Will Trump Allow Sessions To Set The Agenda On Marijuana?


A new poll from CBS News may come as something of a shock to Trump Regime Attorney General Jeff Sessions who is working on amping up the failed and disastrous Republican war on drugs. The poll shows that 61% of Americans think marijuana use should be legal, a 5-point increase from last year and the highest percentage ever recorded by CBS. An overwhelming 88% favor medical marijuana use! But significant numbers of Republican elected officials haven't moved out of their grandparents' perspective and are completely out of sync with where the country is on marijuana use. Even most Republicans (63%) are against Sessions' plans to interfere with marijuana sales in states that have legalized it-- as do 71% of all Americans.

65% of respondents say marijuana is less dangerous than most other drugs and only 23% buy into the ancient GOP claptrap that legalizing marijuana leads to an increase violent crime. Most of the opposition to legalization comes from the elderly, a group still brainwashed by Republican Party pieties going back decades and long disproven.

Earlier today we were talking about the hot special election race in Montana. One metric we used was how Trump beat Hillary in the state 279,240 (56.2%) to 177,709 (35.7%). On that same day, it's worth noting, that a ballot measure making it easier to buy medical marijuana in Montana passed 291,334 (57.9%) to 212,089 (42.1%). Yeah, that's right-- medical marijuana was more popular in Montana than either Trump or Clinton.

One long-time Trump crony and advisor, Roger Stone, violently disagrees with Sessions' approach and is urging Trump to slap Sessions down. Soon after Trump was named president, Stone wrote that one of the most controversial decisions Trump will have to make is whether to continue the federal stand-down by the Justice department "in which DOJ does not enforce federal marijuana laws where they contradict state laws legalizing the legal use and sale of marijuana in the 37 states where it is currently legal in some form. Canceling the order by Obama attorney general Eric Holder to stand down on marijuana would cause a major dislocation in multiple states that are currently budgeting millions in state revenue from the taxation of marijuana and un-employing hundreds of thousands of people currently working in an industry legalized by the states." He urged Trump to "view this as a business man; U.S. government cannot turn back the clock on federal marijuana law enforcement."

Trump has always been pro-medical marijuana. His views on legalization have been, as with most things, muddled and incoherent. In an interview with the Washington Post just before Halloween, 2015 candidate Trump said "In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state. Marijuana is such a big thing. I think medical should. And then I really believe we should leave it up to the states. And of course, you have Colorado. There’s a question as to how it’s all working out there, you know? That’s not going exactly trouble-free." At CPAC the same year, Trump said legalization "is bad... Medical marijuana is another thing, but I think it’s bad, and I feel strongly about it."

Stone also pointed out that Florida's Amendment 2 (approving medical marijuana) was on the ballot the same day Trump won the state's 29 electoral votes. 4,617,886 Floridians voted for Trump (49%). But 6,518,919 Floridians (71.3%) voted to legalize medical marijuana. That's a very significant disparity. Stone warned that "If, after winning the election, Donald Trump listens to the likes of Chris Christie and Jeff Sessions he risks alienating his base and his newly won supporters in a very tangible way. Both Sessions and Christie come from 'Old World' War on Drugs thinking. Criminalized marijuana has directly lead to the persecution of countless individuals, the vast majority of whom are poor and minorities. That this was the desired result of the designers of the system of criminalization cannot be reasonable doubted."

Stone keeps warning Trump about Sessions' reactionary instincts. Early this month he was at it again:
Jeff Sessions states his position plainly: “Good people don’t smoke marijuana”. This plainly false statement, made in all earnestness, clearly demonstrates how far from the mainstream Sessions is on this topic. Very few Americans would agree with him on this, as evidenced in the wave of legalization that washed over the United States over the past five years. More importantly, sick people use marijuana whose medicinal value is proven yet strangely still denied by the Federal Government.

In many States, the road to medical legalization was hard fought, often with State Constitutional amendments requiring over 60% of the popular vote. The Trump Administration should be mindful that the recreational marijuana measures that passed in several states all passed this same way, with overwhelming popular support. This was clearly the Will of the People. It is not Jeff Sessions place to prosecute his version of morality and President Trump should not allow him to do so.

Just the idea of Sessions re-ignites the marijuana drug war has caused consternation within the fledgling State Legal Marijuana Industry. Investments have floundered, confusion introduced, and little in the way of relief has been forthcoming from the White House. This chaos has opened the door for the Cartels.They were being driven out of shriveling black markets, but are now able to reconstitute their distribution networks, filling the gaps left open by patchwork Federal enforcement and by the industries fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

Cracking down on legalized marijuana will starve States out of much needed revenue streams. Colorado is a great success story when looked at from a tax base point of view, and much needed revenue is coming in to fund education and government services. Colorado generated over sixty-six million dollars in tax revenue in 2015 and has increased by double digits’ year over year since. Losing that money will put them deep into the red and cause a burden upon the whole State, as well as throwing thousands of people out of work while destroying a billion-dollar industry.

I urge President Trump to honor his word and keep his promise, irrespective of what his Cabinet members may say.  There are so many other ways that law enforcement can be put to good use rather than to persecute harmless farmers and shopkeepers who are abiding by State law.
Meanwhile, last week the Canadian Government announced new legislation to legalize marijuana, fulfilling a promise Trudeau made while he was campaigning. By the summer of 2018 it should be legal in Canada for people to possess small amounts of pot and there will be guidelines in place for growing and selling marijuana.

Canadian companies are making a play for investment dollars to head north. InMed Pharmaceuticals, a Canadian pre-clinical biotechnology company saw its stock double after the government announced legalization plans.
When compared to the American market, which did in fact grow 34% last year, people are saying that “the industry has matured to a certain point,” indicating that there are still many obstacles on the road to full legalization in the states. Obstacles such as political players like Attorney General Jeff Sessions releasing a memo that his newly created task force will be “evaluating marijuana enforcement policy,” or the fact that the CJS amendment that prohibits the Department of Justice from using any funds to interfere in state medical cannabis programs and bars ongoing federal cases-- expires April 28th. If it is not renewed, patients, caregivers, doctors, and industry workers abiding by their state's medical cannabis law will no longer be protected from federal prosecution.

One big difference is the Canadian cannabis industry offers investors more compelling opportunities because medical cannabis is legal at the federal level. The government’s plan to legalize cannabis has made several licensed medical cannabis producers attractive investment opportunities to institutional investors, hedge funds and investment banks. Additionally, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau supporting full legalization and bankers, lawyers and accountants operating without fear of prosecution making sure medical marijuana producers have access to these much-needed services.

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At 7:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have to ask? To do anything else takes time away from golfing at Mar-a-Lago!


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