Colorado and the rest of country owe U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions a huge debt of gratitude for pushing the nation faster toward repealing its obsolete prohibition on marijuana.
Like almost everything Sessions and the Trump Administration does, it’s difficult to determine their actual motives because of their consistent deceptions and shifting opinions . The Trump Administration’s dubious credibility was further undermined this week by Sessions’ sudden move to end the so-called Cole Memo. That Department of Justice pact instructed federal authorities to set aside most marijuana enforcement is states that legalized recreational marijuana.
Given Sessions’ past support as a U.S. senator for the lost war on drugs, and his intolerance for marijuana use, it’s easy to conclude that Sessions’ stunt meant only ill will for the nascent legal-marijuana industry in states like Colorado.
It was a futile scheme in several ways.
The attorney general did nothing to help his own lost cause as his reckless move seems to have solidified congressional opposition to prohibition. The move even drew rare intra-Republican fire from the likes of Colorado GOP Sen. Cory Gardner.
Gardner and Aurora GOP Congressman Mike Coffman and others in congress from across the country had scathing comments about Sessions’ decision. Gardner virtually called Sessions a liar for having promised during confirmation hearings that he would continue the laissez-faire legal-marijuana policy begun by the Obama administration.
Session clearly did lie, and he made it seem that Trump lied about it as well when he clearly told 9News reporter Brandon Rittiman, during the presidential campaign, that legalized marijuana should be an issue decided by states.
While Sessions’ ill-advised move may have caused a wave of angst among industry officials here and in the other states that have legalized marijuana use, clear comments from U.S. attorneys and state attorneys general make it clear that, at least for now, it’s legalized marijuana business as usual.
Sessions may have tried to disrupt the clear march toward ending federal marijuana prohibition, however he highlighted the fact that it’s inevitable, and the nation needs to speed it up.
A Gallup poll released in October revealed that now a whopping 64 percent of all Americans believe that marijuana should be legalized.
The poll was most striking in that, now, even a majority of Republicans believe it’s time to end marijuana prohibition. After last year’s state and national elections, a stunning 29 states now have laws that one way or another legalize marijuana. Eight states — now including California — have legalized recreational use of marijuana. It appears as many as 10 states could have ballot questions this year legalizing either recreational or medical marijuana — even Utah.
Just like the national move to end homophobia and ensure civil rights for all Americans, legal weed will prevail because it makes sense.
The compelling reasons Colorado voters approved the use of recreational pot are the same all over the country: People want it. People can get it. People will continue to use it. Its dangers have been exaggerated and may be far less dangerous to people society than is alcohol.
All of these things remain true no matter how hard the government tries to change any of it. Despite decades of prohibition, endless propaganda, policing and criminal prosecution by federal, state and local governments, America’s appetite for marijuana has never diminished.
After endless years and endless billions of dollars, the war on marijuana was a colossal failure on all levels. It made criminals out of Americans who never were. It created a huge criminal industry outside and even inside the country, where Mafia-like gangs have murdered and bypassed tax systems in a wide range of places around the world.
Criminalizing marijuana has wasted billions of dollars and resources that could have been spent addressing true issues and crime problems.
Colorado has been a model for why the move to legalization was a good one. Initial research shows legalized weed has not increased the number of minors using it. We haven’t lost vast tracts of Colorado to becoming vacant-eyed zombies who can’t hold a job. Reefer madness never happened. It never will.
We can appreciate states being able to decide the issues of legality and access themselves, similarly to how the states regulate alcoholic beverages. But it’s time now for Congress to assert federal legislation to protect the rights of these states, and thanks to Sessions, there’s likely a majority of legislators open to discuss it.
Rather than wait for the new Trump Administration to make another move that could negatively affect Colorado’s wise and prudent progress, and that of other states, Congress must cue the administration and take the lead on preserving and enhancing this progress.
Federal lawmakers must immediately address issues of banking, security, drug testing and interstate commerce. In abandoning the nation’s futile prohibition on marijuana, legislating these issues now to accommodate states is inarguably the prudent and right thing to do.