President-elect Donald Trump has announced his pick for attorney general, and the marijuana industry is less than enthused. Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama has made multiple public statements voicing his disapproval of cannabis.
Industry leaders are hoping Trump's administration respects states' rights and the electorate's decision to legalize medical and recreational marijuana in over half of the states.
Continue reading for statements from a few marijuana-industry leaders.
Aaron Herzberg, partner and general counsel at CalCann Holdings:
"Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions is the worst pick that Trump could have made for attorney general as it comes to marijuana issues, and this selection bodes very poorly for the Trump administration to adopt a marijuana-friendly policy. It appears that he is intent on rolling back policy to the 1980's Nancy Reagan's 'just say no to drugs' days. He has displayed open hostility to efforts to legalize marijuana, recently stating earlier this year that 'good people don't smoke marijuana.' He has been extremely hostile to efforts to legalize both medical and adult use marijuana.
'You can't have the President of the United States of America talking about marijuana,' Sessions said during a Senate meeting last March. 'You are sending a message to young people that there is no danger in this process. It is false that marijuana doesn't lead more people to more drug use. It is already causing a disturbance in the States that have made it legal.' With the selection of Sessions as Attorney General, the legalization of marijuana both for medical marijuana in 28 states and recreational marijuana in 8 states may be in serious jeopardy."
Jeff Zucker, president of Green Lion Partners:
"Senator Sessions has been an opponent of the cannabis industry in the past, and generally a proponent of the failed 'war on drugs.' However, should the senate confirm his position, we are hopeful that the industry's advancement, especially in the most recent election, will lead to his being open minded as to the incredible benefits cannabis is already having on the country and could eventually have on a federal level. Should he ignore the clear will of US citizens, the industry is prepared to fight for patients and citizens' rights to this incredible plant that has improved so many lives."
David Dinenberg, CEO of KIND Financial:
"Jeff Sessions is no friend of the legal cannabis movement, and there is really no way to spin the nomination in a positive light. The industry was hoping to avoid Chris Christie as Attorney General because of his lack of support, now, I am pretty sure this is no better and maybe worse. I think we all need to remember that those nominated by the President-Elect, if accepted, will serve at the pleasure of the President, and I believe that the President-Elect is for states' rights."
Mason Tvert, on behalf of the Marijuana Policy Project:
"President-elect Trump has said on multiple occasions that he respects states’ right to establish their own marijuana policies. We would expect appointees who serve at the pleasure of the president to stick to the president’s position on this subject. It would certainly be controversial if Sen. Sessions completely defied the president who appointed him.
The vast majority of Americans agree with President-elect Trump’s position that marijuana policy should largely be left to the states. A huge majority of voters share Trump's support for legal access to medical marijuana, and a steadily growing majority believes marijuana should be legal for adults. We remain hopeful that the incoming administration will refrain from interfering in state laws that were adopted by voters or their elected representatives in order to control marijuana and improve the health and safety of their communities.
There is a large and growing sentiment in Congress and among the American public that our federal government should not be wasting tax dollars enforcing failed marijuana prohibition laws. We hope Sen. Sessions or whoever is confirmed as our next attorney general will use federal law enforcement resources to protect our country's citizens, not to defy the laws those citizens have adopted."
Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association:
"Voters in 28 states have chosen programs that shift cannabis from the criminal market to highly regulated, tax-paying businesses. 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."
Derek Peterson, CEO of Terra Tech:
"I believe that President-elect trump is someone who has a high regard for the 10th Amendment and states' rights. This last election cycle was a huge step forward for the industry and a significant proclamation of what constituents want, which is the regulated and legalized sale of cannabis in the U.S. We would think that all appointments he makes would respect that same stance.
We now have quantifiable data points coming out of the industry and we know some of the social concerns of the past are not coming to fruition — in fact, we're seeing positive benefits from legalization, both economic and social. Significant taxes are being collected, thousands of jobs are being created, and we are experiencing less opiate abuse in states with regulated cannabis, these being just a handful of the numerous positive benefits we are experiencing around the country as a result of regulation and legalization."
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