The resignation of Jeff Sessions from his position as the US attorney general questions the future of two topics: Matthew Whitaker and pot.
There are currently ten states in the US with expansive marijuana laws for recreational use- Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. However, marijuana is still technically classified as illegal by federal law, even in these states. Under the Obama Administration, states were loosely permitted to legalize marijuana as long as they met a certain set of guidelines such as age requirements and the prevention of the drug crossing state borders. Arguably the most important restriction placed on pot-permitting states is the emphasis of cash-only enterprises. This restriction protects banks from dealing with enterprises that may face federal persecution.
Under the Trump Administration, led by then AG Jeff Sessions, cannabis industries stood under major risk of being cracked down on, as Sessions is particularly passionate about the war on marijuana. However, with Matthew Whitaker stepping onto the stage, a man claiming to be dedicated to winding down the Mueller investigation, many cannabis industries hope that the exchange may be rather profitable.
“Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been an impediment to the growth of the regulated cannabis industry. We believe we are at a tipping point nationally in terms of voter sentiment as well as support from lawmakers…the corridor is now open to accelerate a states’ rights approach to regulating the cannabis industry,” Derek Peterson of Terra Tech, a massive cannabis industry, said in an interview with Entrepreneur.
On both sides of the isle is right, as Democratic Senator Warren has teamed up with Republican Senator Cory
Gardner to create a bill that would alter the Controlled Substances Act that would place the legalization of marijuana completely in state hands and out of federal prohibition. Pro-marijuana advocates are also hoping to use this opportunity to fight for the rescheduling of the drug from schedule one to schedule two. According to Vox, “The non-medical group is the schedule 1 drugs, which are considered to have no medical value and high potential for abuse. The medical group is the schedule 2 to 5 drugs, which have some medical value and are numerically ranked based on abuse potential”.
A change like this would ultimately lie in the hands of the acting AG, and may result in a more lenient federal outlook on the drug. Only time will tell the future of marijuana and its long running battle with the federal government, but with Sessions out of office, the chances of a swing in favor of state control may be, for lack of a better term, rather high.