Jeff Sessions is not a fan of Cannabis. He has sternly and frequently stated it, even going as far as saying, “Good people don’t smoke marijuana”. For the past year, one of his primary missions has been targeting the Cannabis Industry. A few days ago, Sessions has taken a step forward in his mission by rescinding the Cole Memo. For some, this is looked at as a huge win and a detrimental blow to the industry. For some. But, if you look at the details and understand the laws that are in place, you’ll come to understand that this is just a scare tactic. This might even be the the decision that forces him to resign. Here are a few points as to why this is not that big of a deal.
- It Was Only A Memo
Although it has been talked about as the one string that held all the pieces together, the Cole Memo was only just a memo. Think of it as a little secret everyone told each other in the government to look the other way while the industry was building. There wasn’t enough support at the time to push for legalization, but there was enough to throw in a quick memo to steer the conversation away from the issue. The memo is a lot easier to toss out than an amendment, which is our next point. Lets remember that this memo was only to protect the recreational businesses. Medical is still protected.
The Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment is the item people should be talking about. This amendment that was passed in 2014 was the big win for the Cannabis Community. It blocked the Federal Government from allocating funds to disrupt medical cannabis businesses and users in states where it is legal. To get rid of an amendment, Sessions would have to lobby Congress to get them to agree to that. After this political stunt Sessions made with rescinding the Cole Memo, I doubt this will happen since Congress is up in arms about that right now.
- Gone Too Far To Change Now
There are 29 States that have Legal Recreational and Medical regulations in place, and there are quite a few states that will have it on the ballot this year. Even with the so-called threats of law suits against the states, it’s not going to sway the majority. There have been too many benefits to turn away from. Billions of dollars have been accumulated in taxes already, which is why even a majority of Republicans now agree with Adult Use and Regulation. The only states I would see that would change their tune would be the fringe states that have piss-poor regulations in the first place. To top it off, States like Vermont have fired back at Sessions by quickly passing legalization through their legislation just hours after Sessions threw out the memo.
When our team was at Canna Law Blog’s California Cannabis Investment Forum in San Francisco, a question was broached to the angel investors in the panel about this exact situation. In short, their response was that they can’t stop it now. There’s too much money in it.
The Marijuana Policy Project also chimed in on this during their interview. Heather Azzi, the Sr. Campaign Council for MPP, put it like this:
- Trying to Stop the Bleeding
From what I’ve researched and gathered, this can only be something to appease the headlines and scare the states that haven’t passed regulations yet. It would be political suicide for Sessions to try knocking down the doors in Colorado, California, Washington, Oregon, etc; so the only logical route of action would be to ‘stop the bleeding’. The states that have the measure on this years ballot and the organizations that are pushing to get enough approval to place a motion on the ballot are still vulnerable. Even with all this momentum behind us, some of the states are still hesitant on legalization and regulation. This could be the excuse they need to vote No on the ballot or not accept the motions.
On the other hand, most of the states in line to become legal are pushing medical first. With a proper shift in marketing and reassurance, I don’t see why the states wouldn’t still go for it, since they are still protected under the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment.
- Here’s The Best Part
This decision might be the last nail in the coffin for him. A day after Sessions threw out the memo, Republican Senators are now calling for him to resign. After dealing with all the flack from recusing himself from the Russia Investigation, Trump having issues with him and now this, we might not see much more of Sessions soon.
To be honest, after seeing how this administration runs, I truly believe that this is a ruse to stir up news headlines and discussions for the next few months. This Red Herring could be one of the many headlines looking to brush bigger issues like the book Fire and Fury, the Russia Investigation and the possible North Korea War under the rug. This wouldn’t be even close to the first time this administration has done this, and now that Senators are going for blood from this stunt, this will be all for not. Don’t be fooled by what’s spewed from Sessions’s archaic hole of bigotry, idiocy and fear mongering. Remember that he has a lot of money in Private Prisons, and arrests from petty cannabis crimes has provided more prisoners than for all violent crimes combined. Cannabis Legalization has already passed it’s tipping point. There is not a thing Sessions or the Administration can do to stop it without a national backlash.