Danielle Elkins: Trump’s attorney general pick could send pot industry up in smoke if confirmed
As the smoke clears after the presidential election, Donald Trump is working on choosing who will aid him in leading America.
Among the topics of debate surrounding the president-elect’s cabinet nominees is one of the most controversial plants of all time and a hot-button issue for Craig — pot.
As pot-supporting Americans were celebrating voter approval of recreational use of marijuana in California, Massachusetts and Nevada after the November election, they turned around to find that one of the most conservative politicians in the Senate could be making some major decisions about cannabis.
Trump recently nominated the Republican Senator from Alabama, Jeff Sessions, for the position of attorney general. Many are predicting that, if confirmed, Sessions will try to put a halt to the legalization of the “Mary Jane.”
But why are pot supporters so concerned? After all, pot has been legalized for recreational use in eight states, and for medical use in over half the states.
“We need grown-ups in charge in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized,” Sessions said during a Senate hearing in April, according to a Nov. 22 New York Times article by Mike McPhate.
Technically, pot is still illegal under federal law.
John Hudak from the Brookings Institution, studies marijuana policy. In McPhate’s article, Hudak explained what Sessions could mean for the pot industry.
Hudak said that as attorney general, Sessions would have the power to basically rip up the justice department directives known as the Cole and Ogden memos, which called for the federal government to step back from marijuana prosecutions. He could also use federal law enforcement power against operators and sue state regulators, blocking state systems.
There is only one person who would be able to stop him from going through with these actions — the president. At this point, it is unclear what Trump’s stance will be, Hudak said.
It appears that the pot industry could go up in a smoke, depending on how things play out.
That’s good news to those Craig residents who oppose marijuana, but bad news to those who are trying for retail sales and growth of it here.
Since Dinosaur voted to legalize retail marijuana in November, Craig is now surrounded on both sides by pot sales. However, Daily Press reporter Patrick Kelly reported in 2014 that Moffat County residents chose to keep retail marijuana out of the county, with 2,860 voting no and 2,011 voting yes.
An Aug. 10, a Craig Daily Press staff report said that the Committee to Grow Craig circulated a petition for the allowance of an ordinance on the November ballot that, if passed by voters, would permit the growing and selling of recreational marijuana in Craig.
Grow Craig was not able to collect enough signatures, however, and the ordinance was not on the November ballot.
Chairman of Grow Craig and manager of Craig Apothecary, Paul James, doesn’t seem intimidated by Trump’s nomination of Sessions.
“I probably won’t stop pushing for this until I’m dead,” he said. “Jeff Sessions made a comment a while back that ‘good people don’t smoke marijuana’ but, coming from the medical side, I know a lot of good people who use it responsibly. The fact that the majority of the country is for legalization now should make Sessions unqualified. But Trump has said that he will allow states to continue to enforce laws on marijuana so I don’t think it’ll go anywhere.”
County Commissioner Ray Beck believes that the matter is in the hands of voters in Moffat County.
“If it goes through the proper procedures and gets on the ballot, I support the people’s right to vote on what they want,” he said.
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