Marijuana Industry Fears If Sessions Is Confirmed, Dispensaries Could Get Shut Down

January 11, 2017 | Geoffrey Marshall

By Debra Borchardt for Forbes

"Many medical cannabis patients and their families supported [Trump's] candidacy because they believed he would be better on this issue than his opponent. However, the nomination of Jeff Sessions as the next Attorney General of the United States is a tremendous cause for concern to medical cannabis patients and their families." - Steph Sherer

 

 

The marijuana industry will be listening intently to the confirmation hearings for Jeff Sessions for attorney general on Tuesday morning. While many people are focused on Sessions' past positions on civil rights, cannabis companies are very concerned that this marijuana critic could put the brakes on the legalization of marijuana.

Even though Sessions comes to the hearings with heavy baggage, the general consensus is that he will get confirmed. If he does get confirmed, then the industry will be watching to see whether President-elect Donald Trump, who is generally in favor of states rights, will convince Sessions to his way of thinking or Sessions will be given a green light to pursue his anti-marijuana agenda.

“The rumor I've heard is that they will be cracking down with DC first,” said Adam Eidinger, cofounder of DCMJ, the group behind the legalization efforts in Washington DC. “[A] large number of dispensaries are going to get shut down straight up, shut down by the DEA six months from now.” Eidinger added, “Then all the states that legalized are going to get letters saying 'No, don't do it.'”

Eidinger's plan to protest is by rallying his marijuana troops to hand out free marijuana joints at the inauguration, a move that he acknowledges has irritated some cannabis business leaders. “It's lawful to share marijuana in DC, but not sell it. It's also against the law to smoke in public, but we plan to force a tolerant position on the new administration.”

Eidinger garnered a lot of attention last year by showing up to Sessions office with marijuana and DCMJ was pleased they weren't arrested. “Anyone who believes Jeff Sessions isn't messing around, that he's not going to crack down and turn down the whole medical marijuana industry, are missing the point. There's no reason to believe he won't do that.”

 

Debra Borchardt , CONTRIBUTOR
I write about retail and cannabis.

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

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Attorney General nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., right, accompanied by former Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, left, walks through the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

The marijuana industry will be listening intently to the confirmation hearings for Jeff Sessions for attorney general on Tuesday morning. While many people are focused on Sessions' past positions on civil rights, cannabis companies are very concerned that this marijuana critic could put the brakes on the legalization of marijuana.

Even though Sessions comes to the hearings with heavy baggage, the general consensus is that he will get confirmed. If he does get confirmed, then the industry will be watching to see whether President-elect Donald Trump, who is generally in favor of states rights, will convince Sessions to his way of thinking or Sessions will be given a green light to pursue his anti-marijuana agenda.

“The rumor I've heard is that they will be cracking down with DC first,” said Adam Eidinger, cofounder of DCMJ, the group behind the legalization efforts in Washington DC. “[A] large number of dispensaries are going to get shut down straight up, shut down by the DEA six months from now.” Eidinger added, “Then all the states that legalized are going to get letters saying 'No, don't do it.'”

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Eidinger's plan to protest is by rallying his marijuana troops to hand out free marijuana joints at the inauguration, a move that he acknowledges has irritated some cannabis business leaders. “It's lawful to share marijuana in DC, but not sell it. It's also against the law to smoke in public, but we plan to force a tolerant position on the new administration.”

Eidinger garnered a lot of attention last year by showing up to Sessions office with marijuana and DCMJ was pleased they weren't arrested. “Anyone who believes Jeff Sessions isn't messing around, that he's not going to crack down and turn down the whole medical marijuana industry, are missing the point. There's no reason to believe he won't do that.”

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Medical cannabis group Americans for Safe Access executive director Steph Sherer said, "Many medical cannabis patients and their families supported [Trump's] candidacy because they believed he would be better on this issue than his opponent. However, the nomination of Jeff Sessions as the next Attorney General of the United States is a tremendous cause for concern to medical cannabis patients and their families."

National Cannabis Industry Association executive director Aaron Smith seemed resigned to the confirmation. "Voters in 28 states have chosen programs that shift cannabis from the criminal market to highly regulated, tax-paying businesses," Smith says. "Senator Sessions has long advocated for state sovereignty, and we look forward to working with him to ensure that states' rights and voter choices on cannabis are respected."

Sessions' submitted Senate Judiciary Questionnaire is apparently lacking hundreds of answers. For example, clips to speeches that are easily found online are not included. There are no records of speeches past June 2016 and there is no mention in the questionnaire that he was rejected for a judgeship in 1986. Senator Dianne Feinstein had urged that the hearing be delayed until the questionnaire was complete, but the hearing has proceeded as planned.

The marijuana industry may be on pins and needles watching the hearing, but with civil rights leaders and sexual assault survivors equally concerned about Sessions, there may be little time to discuss cannabis issues. The nomination hearings begin at 9:30 am ET at the Russell Senate Office Building 325.



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