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Why Jeff Sessions’ War on Weed Is a Futile Pursuit

Photo Credit: DEA

Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ proclamation Thursday that he is rescinding Obama-era superintendence to sovereign prosecutors directing them to take a laissez-faire proceed to state-legal pot solely under specified resources (violence, out-of-state diversion, income laundering, etc.) is promulgation startle waves by the pot industry, but its impact is likely to be limited.

That’s since pot breach is a failing beast, and while the twitching of its tail in its death throes could means some injury, conjunction the profession ubiquitous nor his minions are going to be means to get that savage back up and resounding again. They are too late.

At slightest one of them famous as much Thursday afternoon. Colorado U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer, a Sessions appointee, pronounced within hours that there would be no changes in his office’s coercion priorities. He  would continue “identifying and prosecuting those who create the biggest reserve threats to the communities around the state,” he said, an proceed “consistent with Sessions’ guidance.” 


Sessions’ pierce comes days after California, the nation’s many populous state, began recreational pot sales, joining Alaska, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. Maine and Massachusetts have also already ratified marijuana, with taxed and regulated sales being just a matter of time. Washington, D.C., has also ratified pot possession and cultivation, nonetheless not sales, and another 21 states concede for medical marijuana.

More states are likely to legalize it this year (although the Sessions pierce could means some perplexity at state houses), as even slow-to-act legislators eye pot legalization’s ever-increasing popularity. The latest Gallup check has 64 percent ancillary legalization, suggesting that going after authorised weed is likely to be a domestic loser.

Which is not to contend that Sessions and the Justice Department can’t do some critical harm. The small proclamation of the pierce saw pot bonds plunge in value Thursday. And unleashed sovereign prosecutors could try arrests and prosecutions of pot businesses. Even some-more dire, they could seek—and likely win—permanent injunctions in the sovereign courts shutting down state pot programs. They do, after all, violate sovereign law.

Such moves could totally interrupt authorised pot regimes, shuttering pot businesses and branch off the pot taxation income spigot, but they can’t finish authorised weed. And Sessions’ proclamation doesn’t meant he has systematic an evident crackdown; instead, he has signaled to sovereign prosecutors that they are free to pierce brazen against authorised pot if and as they wish.

Even if they do, here are 4 reasons because Sessions’ fight on weed is a impractical quest.

1. The sovereign supervision can't make states recriminalize marijuana.

The sovereign supervision can make pot illegal under sovereign law and it likely has the ability to request pot businesses and state regulatory apparatuses from selling, regulating, and fatiguing marijuana, but it can't foreordain to the states what their pot laws should be. In other words, the feds may have the ability to interrupt authorised pot markets and states’ ability to taxation and umpire them, but not to make weed illegal again in California or any of the other states that have or will legalize it.

2. There aren’t adequate DEA agents to effectively make pot prohibition.

Just as the sovereign supervision can't force states to recriminalize marijuana, conjunction can it force state law coercion to make sovereign pot laws. With authorised pot states intensely doubtful to give cops the go-ahead to make sovereign pot laws, that leaves the DEA. But there are only 4,000 DEA agents worldwide, and they have other dire issues to understanding with, such as the opioid epidemic, not to discuss meth and cocaine. Even if every DEA agent worldwide forsaken all and rushed to California to make sovereign pot laws, that’s only one agent for every 10,000 state residents. And that’s just California. They could do model raids on a token series of pot businesses, which could indeed have a chilling effect, but they will be incompetent to effectively make pot prohibition.

3. Shutting down authorised pot regimes will only strengthen the black market.

Even regressive sovereign prosecutors will know this. To the grade that the Justice Department is successful in shuttering pot businesses and squeezing off authorised entrance to marijuana, it will drive pot consumers to obtain their weed elsewhere. That strengthens the black marketplace and the very steal that Attorney General Sessions rails against. For a law and sequence administration, policies that strengthen rapist networks are counterproductive.

4. The greeting is fierce, and only just beginning.

Trump, Sessions, and sovereign prosecutors are just commencement to get a ambience of the defamation the pierce is inspiring. Industry spokespeople are job out the boss for appearing to back divided from the Trump campaign guarantee that pot legalization would be left up to the states, and a Republican senator, Cory Gardner of Colorado, has already announced from the Senate building that he will place a hold on every Justice Department assignment until Sessions reverses march and lives up to what Gardner says was a guarantee to him not to retreat Obama-era policy.

Democrats are also hollering and screaming, and it’s worth observant that some-more than half the Senate and some-more than a hundred House members now represent states that have ratified pot in some form, possibly medicinally or recreationally or both.

Short of just legalizing marijuana, where Congress has genuine energy over the Justice Department is in appropriations. When it comes to medical marijuana, for the past 3 years Congress has authorized an amendment that bars the use of Justice Department supports to go after the medical pot states. Look for a identical appropriations check supplement exclusive Justice from going after authorised pot states, too. 

* * *

Jeff Sessions is leaving decisions about pot coercion to his U.S. attorneys. They could levy outrageous disruptions on the legal, regulated pot business, which is bad enough, but they can’t bring back pot prohibition. Sessions is fighting a lonely, rearguard battle not even upheld by his own party or the boss he serves. It’s a battle he will lose, nonetheless it could means some casualties. 


Phillip Smith is editor of the AlterNet Drug Reporter and author of the Drug War Chronicle.

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