Trump’s anti-pot attorney general choice rattles legal marijuana movement

 In Legalization, Medical Marijuana, National News, Recreational Marijuana, Regulation

DENVER – Legal pot’s future is in a haze, thanks to President-elect Trump’s nomination of a staunchly anti-marijuana lawmaker for attorney general.

“Good people don’t smoke marijuana,” said Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions in an April Senate hearing.

That view from the nation’s incoming top cop, a sharply different tone than President Obama’s, has cast a pall over an industry that’s recently celebrated a watershed moment. Voters in eight states relaxed their marijuana laws on Nov. 8, raising to 29 the states that now permit medical use of marijuana, and eight with legal recreational laws on the books.

Marijuana opponents are energized by Sessions’ nomination, saying the federal government could easily reverse the national trend toward legalization.

“The point is that it’s a new day for marijuana policy,” said Kevin Sabet, president of the anti-legalization Smart Approaches to Marijuana group. “All options are on the table — something unthinkable three weeks ago.”

Legal pot’s shaky legal ground adds to the uncertainty. While more states loosen restrictions, marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, preventing its sale across state lines and limiting businesses from opening bank accounts.

Marijuana-industry workers say a change in attitude at the top of government would quickly trickle down. A few high-profile raids by the DEA would likely dissuade many of those who are today publicly selling cannabis.

Many marijuana business owners are wary of drawing Trump’s ire, and are “proceeding with caution,” said Nate Bradley, the executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Association. Yet advocates for legal marijuana also are hopeful that the views of Trump, who has supported states’ rights to establish their own marijuana policies, will outweigh those of Sessions.


Photo credit: Trevor Hughes/USA TODAY

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