It Was Bound to Happen

January 11, 2018
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A number of months ago we predicted in this column that the Trump administration would move to destroy the nascent legal marijuana industry, even though Trump himself had said during his campaign that he would not seek to do so because he believed it to be a states’ rights issue.

The directive issued last week by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to withdraw an Obama-era directive discouraging the enforcement of federal laws in states that have legalized marijuana thus comes as no surprise to us.

We will reiterate what we said at that time for our belief as to the real reasons (forget their proffered explanations) why the Trump administration will try to destroy the burgeoning pot industry: Almost all of the states (other than Alaska) that have legalized marijuana sales for recreational purposes are Blue states; the success (and tax revenue) of the industry could lead to the legalization of marijuana in purple states; arrests and incarceration for marijuana possession and distribution disproportionately affect minorities, which means that in many states, those voters can have their right to vote taken away; and incarcerating fewer people means that the operators of private prisons (who are huge contributors to the Republicans) will lose a major source of their revenue.

Sessions said that he will be leaving it up to the discretion of individual U.S. Attorneys General as to whether, and how, they will enforce the federal laws (which, if you can believe it, still classify marijuana as a Class I drug, equivalent to heroin). All it will take is one federal prosecutor, who is out to make a name for himself, to smash a legal operation and to make arrests, and the entire industry will be threatened.

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