The newly appointed U.S. Attorney General for the Trump administration, Jeff Sessions, has caused a stir around the country in the last few weeks. He made some very public statements that express that he could be cracking down on recreational marijuana soon. 8 states have already legalized recreational marijuana and many more are looking to join those states in the next couple of years. Sessions’ comments have created a scramble for the marijuana industry and government officials to find ways to protect local business in the face of federal interference.
How the New Bill Would Work
California voted to legalize recreational marijuana last November and now officials are looking for ways to protect the new industry as it comes into being. 6 Democratic legislators have gotten together to come up with a bill that could provide some protection for the industry. The legislators have created a proposition that would block all police and sheriff’s departments in the state from talking to federal officials and assisting with federal marijuana related investigations unless they are required by court order to help.
An Increase in Tension
Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the California Growers Association said, “The election of Mr. Trump as president, and subsequent confirmation of Mr. Sessions as attorney general, has been perceived by many of our members to have increased the risk of doing business. Businesses will need to feel confident that the state will protect them from the federal government.” He went on to add, “It is very hard for federal agents to go into a rural county and kick down a bunch of doors and arrest a bunch of people without the local sheriff being a part of it. It’s dangerous, actually. This is about giving them legal standing to actively not participate.”
Law Enforcement Reaction
Law enforcement have not been thrilled about the inference from legislators. Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood, president of the California State Sheriffs’ Association, called it offensive, upset by lawmakers telling them how to work. The bill is similar to another one that exists which stops law enforcement in the state from cooperating with federal immigration officials, thus providing protection and sanctuary for immigrants in the state.
Despite the disappointment from law enforcement, marijuana advocates and industry people are very happy about the bill and its potential to protect what would be a multimillion dollar booming business for the state.
Protecting the Cannabis Industry on a Larger Scale
There are several lawmakers around the country who have been working to protect the marijuana industry from the threat indicated by the Trump administration. Currently, a new bill has been presented to both the House and the Senate that would declassify marijuana from the Schedule I drug classification that makes it illegal to instead having no classification, thereby allowing it to be regulated in the same way that cigarettes and alcohol are regulated.
As the future of marijuana continues to remain up in the air, these steps toward progress and protection have been taken in an attempt to allow the industry to keep growing. Marijuana has been found to be both safer and healthier than cigarettes and alcohol so it seems only natural that it would be regulated in the same way.