On Election Day, residents of California made their vote to become the world’s biggest legal marijuana market, along with seven more states who also voted yes on recreational or medical pot. Originally, President-elect Donald Trump’s shocking victory didn’t seem to pose an immediate threat to the legal pot industry; Trump isn’t popular in the cannabis world, but he’s not seen as a committed prohibitionist either.
At a post-election industry conference in Vegas, the largest controversy involved a nearly naked model covered in cold cuts. That outlook changed after Trump picked Sen. Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican, as his nominee for attorney general. While many conservatives have relaxed their outlook on both marijuana and criminal penalties for drug offenses, Sessions evidently has not.
“We need grown-ups in charge in Washington saying marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized,” he said at a hearing in April.
“It is, in fact, a very real danger.” To liberals, the Sessions nomination is, as the New York Times editorialized, “An insult to justice.” Sessions had been rejected for a federal judgeship in 1986 due to concerns that he’s a racist.
His nomination in 2016 to the far more powerful position of attorney general raised an immediate outcry from, among others, those concerned with the treatment of undocumented immigrants, the rights of LGBTQ and Muslim Americans, and supporters of criminal justice reform and police accountability. The legal marijuana industry, which is anticipated to top $6 billion in sales this year, also has reason to fear Sessions, but its response has been much more muted.
The National Cannabis Industry Association, the industry’s largest lobby, released a statement saying that it looked forward to working with Attorney General Sessions. They think it’s safer to weather his tenure at the Justice Department than to fight it.