President-elect Donald Trump’s decision to appoint U.S, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) as attorney general has kicked up a storm in the cannabis industry.
Many fear Sessions, a vocal opponent of marijuana, will come down hard on the business, even if they complied with their state laws.
Jeff Sessions and the Marijuana Industry
Businesses Concerned Over Sessions’ Appointment
While Sessions’ appointment has brought a lot of worry for cannabis businesses, many are pinning their hopes on Trump.
“Despite Session’s comments about enforcing federal laws, we expect the Trump Administration will make good on its commitment to states’ rights,” Nate Bradley, Executive Director of the California Cannabis Industry Association (CCIA) said in a release from Evan Nison Consulting, a pro-industry PR firm.
Bradley’s belief in the Trump administration gains credence from the President-elect’s earlier support for medical marijuana.
Many businesses are also expecting Trump to see the amount of money that’s coming into the states through taxes.
“If Senator Sessions goes after the regulated cannabis industry, he will destroy tens of thousands of jobs, shut down hundreds of small businesses and take away millions of dollars from our schools. Hopefully the Trump Administration supports states’ rights on cannabis legalization, despite Senator Sessions’ personal views,” commented Isaac Dietrich, CEO of MassRoots, a social platform for for the Marijuana community.
Sessions’ Stand on Marijuana So Far
Sessions has been very open in his opposition to marijuana legalization.
He has spoken out against marijuana on several occasions. Last year at a Senate hearing, he said, “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.”
An earlier comment made in the 80s drew considerable criticism. Back then, Sessions was being considered for a federal district judge position. At that time, he had remarked he thought the Ku Klux Klan “were OK until I found out they smoked pot.”
He apologized later.
Where do States Stand on Marijuana at the Moment
Medical marijuana use is legalized in 28 states at present. Recreational laws have been passed in eight states and 21 percent of the U.S. population now resides in a state where smoking weed is legal.
National prohibitions against interstate cannabis commerce and federal banking and drug laws have kept big companies at bay so far. This, in turn, has created opportunities for small businesses and startups. Many smaller firms have, in fact, established cultivators, processing, manufacturing and testing facilities.