Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been open about his opposition to legal cannabis and ever since his nomination, the US and worldwide cannabis community has been forced to adopt a ‘wait and see’ approach.
Legal cannabis businesses across the legal states are anxious and with a good reason. The Attorney General has been making derogatory comments about marijuana and has been endorsing the failed war on drugs, which is a massive change compared to the previous administration’s approach to cannabis.
Despite the overwhelming evidence on the effectiveness of cannabis as a medicine, as well as on its high level of safety, Sessions seems to ignore and disregard the scientific evidence.
On the 27th of February, he assembled the Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety to review enforcement of immigration, drug trafficking and violent crime laws including a subcommittee to investigate marijuana laws in the legal states.
The Task Force has been largely kept under the radar, the members are not disclosed publicly, all we know is that they are federal law enforcement officials and prosecutors.
Combating violent crime is claimed to be a priority for this administration and Sessions seems to believe that he can link cannabis to increased violence, despite evidence from the legal states showing the exact opposite. His attempt to restart the failed cannabis prohibition has prompted a lawsuit to be filed against him last month.
The Task Force was meant to report to him by 27 of July and the cannabis community has been anticipating what might come next. There has been some concern that the committee may manipulate the findings to please Sessions, however, with the overwhelming scientific research from around the world these days, this could be difficult to achieve without looking foolish.
The Task Force has reported its findings last week and as opposed to the anticipated policy announcements and marijuana crackdown… nothing happened.
Just as the members of the Task Force have been kept under the radar, their report seems to be destined for the same.
The Department of Justice doesn’t disclose what the Task Force recommendations are, raising suspicions that the report might not have come to the conclusion that Sessions was hoping for.
Even though the Task Force’s recommendations are not available to the public, portions of the report have been obtained by the Associated Press and based on those portions, the Task Force has not made recommendations to support Sessions anti-cannabis approach.
The recommendations do not give the go ahead to Sessions to initiate a crackdown on the legal cannabis industry, rather they suggest to keep the current system and monitor it for a possible change in the future. Sessions is not obligated to follow these recommendations in any ways, however, it gives some hope that he’ll leave the legal cannabis industry as is… at least for now.
While the committee was busy trying to find a solution to the very challenging task of linking cannabis to violent crime, New Jersey Senator, Cory Booker has proposed the Marijuana Justice Act.
The proposed bill not only goes after legalizing cannabis on the federal level but also looks at repairing some of the damage done by the war on cannabis that Sessions supports.
Senator Booker points out that Sessions is going against the public opinion as Americans do not buy into the false claims of the failed war on drugs anymore.
These days, 95% of Americans want medical cannabis to be legal and the public is a lot better educated on the cannabis topic than they were a decade ago.
Booker argues that data coming out of the legal states proves the exact opposite of Sessions’ argument. Legal cannabis decreases violent crime, while prohibition not only increases it but also severely hurts communities of colour and poor communities of all colour.
Sessions best chance to reduce violent crime is to embrace legal cannabis as we can clearly see it happening in the states that already have a legal cannabis program.