The battle between US states and the federal power is intensifying as California gets closer to becoming a ‘sanctuary state,’ safe from federal power against cannabis.
The vote took place just over a week ago, and represented one of the first tangible legal actions taken in the unspoken fight between the states and the federal level when it comes to cannabis. A number of states have moved forward with positive legislation allowing the medical and even recreational use of the drug, while at the federal level the drug is still illegal.
The bill prohibits state or local agencies from providing support to federal causes investigating the “commercial or noncommercial marijuana or medical cannabis activity,” which has been cleared by the State of California.
“The successful Assembly floor vote means the bill has cleared its first house, before today’s deadline, and now heads to the State Senate to be heard by the Senate Public Safety Committee,” Marijuana Industry News wrote.
The LA Times reported that Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, Democrat from Los Angeles, argued the California legislation had to pass since the current administration “threatened to resume enforcement of federal law that considered marijuana an illegal drug.”
During his time on the debate floor, Jones-Sawyer said Bill AB 1578 would make sure resources in the state would not end in the hands of the federal power and used against “individuals and entities that are in compliance with our laws.”
The bill was met with opposition from local Republicans who even called the proposition a violation of federal law. “This is insanity,” Assemblyman James Gallagher said.
Hope for a progressive update to the federal vocabulary on marijuana, slowed down following the appointment of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, who has called for the return of America’s infamous drug on wars. Sessions also said he “rejects” the concept of cannabis becoming available everywhere.
“Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life,” Sessions said, according to The Independent.
A new war on drugs
Despite an initial fear of a crackdown on the industry, Sessions’ hands are currently tied, thanks to the bill Republicans were forced to pass in order to fund government up until September. As a result, this, there is no resources for raids against the industry.
“Everybody asks you ‘aren’t you worried about Trump and Sessions shutting the industry down? Most people in the industry went way past that a long time ago,” Scott Boyes CEO of Canadian Bioceutical told the Investing News Network. Boyes also pointed out that Congress won’t want to miss the potential revenue stream provided by cannabis.
However, cannabis consumers in the US have seen dangerous changes due to Sessions. In May, the Attorney General sent a memo to federal prosecutors, asking them to seek the heaviest punishment possible for low-level drug crimes.
This change rolls back the Obama-era policy which had sought a more lax approach to these type of offenses in order to reduce the alarmingly large incarcerated population in the US.
“If you are a drug trafficker,” Sessions said in a speech following the release of the memo, “we will not look the other way. We will not be willfully blind to your misconduct.”
The cannabis industry is causing a ripple across government levels in the US – as liberal states prepare for a large-scale challenge of what increasingly seems to be a return to the war on drugs policy from the Attorney General.
Securities Disclosure: I, Bryan Mc Govern, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.