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One of the decisions President Donald Trump will have to make is whether to move forward with the federal government’s hands off policy on cannabis, which has allowed the sale of the substance in 27 states. President Trump’s nominee for attorney general, Senator Jeff Sessions, has signaled that the new administration could end the practice of allowing states to legalize marijuana. Sessions stated, “It’s not so much the attorney general’s job to decide what laws to enforce. We should do our job and enforce laws as effectively as we’re able.”

Paul Callan and Danny Cevallos, from CNN, were asked for their views on the subject.

1. Cannabis is illegal under federal law. It’s a Schedule 1 controlled substance. Does the President have an obligation to enforce the law as written until the law is repealed?
Danny Cevallos: Yes. As a criminal defense attorney you might think I’d be anti-enforcement instead of pro-enforcement. But there’s no question that the President and the Attorney General are charged with enforcing the law. Arbitrary or selective enforcement of existing law is itself an abuse of power. The Equal Protection Clause already prohibits the “selective enforcement” of a law based on standards like race or religion. The broad discretion of the executive branch or a prosecutor to charge identical defendants with different crimes creates a real threat of unequal, and unconstitutional, treatment. If you want to legalize marijuana, the solution for the federal government is not to be willfully blind to existing federal law. That sends a bad message. The solution is to be proactive: get rid of the outdated federal law.

Paul Callan: No. Sure, Danny is correct that the President and the Attorney General are supposed to enforce the laws as written, but there is also an important concept called prosecutorial discretion. The government has limited resources and can choose to focus on terrorists, kidnappers, murderers and big-time white collar criminals rather than pot smokers listening to Daft Punk’s latest rendition of “Human After All.” The statute books are filled with laws that are not being enforced because they are obsolete and legislators haven’t gotten around to repealing them. There are an abundance of such laws listed in numerous internet sites. But more serious examples are closer at hand. For example, in 2013 the Justice Department issued a memo from Deputy Attorney General James Cole outlining a limited enforcement policy of only prosecuting federal marijuana criminal violations in cases of violence, interstate smuggling, distribution to minors and in matters of adverse impact on public health. Attorney General nominee Sessions would be wise to follow the Obama approach here, and President Trump should understand that there are a lot of electoral votes in those weed-legal states. And as for my friend Danny Cevallos; it is time for him to face reality and, as they say in Colorado, “chill.”

2. President Obama has excused thousands of drug offenders serving substantial amounts of time in prison for the sale and possession marijuana. Should President Trump continue with the Obama pardon policy given the number of states which have now legalized the drug?

Callan: Yes. President Trump would be wise to follow the example of his predecessor by making use of the pardon and commutation power, with care and discretion. The prisons are filled with inmates who have been sentenced to lengthy prison sentences for drug-related crimes. Many have gotten old in prison and no longer pose a threat to society. Many were unjustly convicted. We have seen a massive increase in costly, wrongful conviction lawsuits throughout the nation. Members of America’s minority communities have been aggrieved by what they perceive as the mass incarceration of their young men due to unjust drug laws that are no longer relevant in modern America. The pardons and commutations should be carefully monitored to make sure violent criminals are not slipping through the cracks but President Trump should follow President Obama’s example in continuing this policy.

Cevallos: No. Does anyone else think it’s a huge waste of resources for President Obama to pardon federal drug offenders instead of getting rid of the federal law that made many of them federal drug offenders in the first place? Think of the resources frittered away: existing federal law is what causes investigations, arrests, trials, appeals, and incarceration. Then, ultimately the same branch of government that spent all that time and money convicting the person grants a pardon or commutation, effectively canceling out all those resources spent getting the conviction. Wouldn’t it be a lot less expensive to get rid of the federal law that led to the expensive investigation, arrest, trial, appeal, and incarceration in the first place? President Obama’s pardon policy for drug offenders is a good thing, but it’s largely cosmetic, and it only conceals the bruises that the federal government itself continues to inflict upon the citizenry. Paul Callan wants to paint himself as a freedom fighter here, and he’s right that the pardon power is good for freeing those for acts no longer considered crimes. But true freedom isn’t pardoning the crime after the person has been incarcerated. It’s getting rid of the crime itself.

3. Republicans have commonly supported the doctrine of federalism. Should President Trump’s Republican Administration allow the states to experiment with cannabis legalization under the doctrine of federalism?
Cevallos: No. As Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis put it: “it is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous State may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.” I agree completely with that general sentiment. But marijuana is different. States legalizing pot is “experimenting” with something that is flat-out illegal under federal law. When the threat of federal prosecution hangs over a marijuana shop owner or user, states cannot truly serve as laboratories. It’s hard to experiment when banks, investors, insurance companies, and even attorneys are reluctant to provide necessary services, for fear of federal criminal penalties or professional discipline. Paul Callan may cheer states for their open flouting of federal law, but would he represent a shop owner if he thought the bar association’s disciplinary committee would come after him? Heck no. He’s as afraid of the ethics board as I am. And so are plenty of other lawyers, who fear potential disciplinary action for counseling a client to engage in the business of violating federal law. Everyone loves the idea of civil disobedience, until it’s their turn to actually get hit with the fire hose or the police truncheon.
Callan: Yes. There is a lot of truth in a statement often heard in conservative gatherings: “The states created the federal government and not the other way around.” The Constitution was drafted by founding fathers deeply sensitive to the concept of a limited federal government with a vibrant democracy flourishing at the local level. Nowhere is the leadership of the states more clearly demonstrated than in the approval of recreational and medical marijuana in 27 states at last count. This state laboratory creates a superb opportunity to test different approaches to legalization rather than rely on the alleged wisdom of Cevallos’ elite pals in DC, many of whom have just been unceremoniously kicked out of office in the tumultuous election of 2016. Local authorities will ensure that rather than a “one size fits all” federal approach, the best state ideas will be imitated and implemented by other states. And as for the Cevallos claim that lawyers will never represent weed store owners for fear of an ethics prosecution, the Colorado Supreme Court has just given the weed lawyers the green light to represent marijuana businesses. Perhaps Danny Cevallos should consider opening a Denver office.

4. Should cannabis be legalized because taxing it will lead to a rich source of government revenue?
Cevallos: No. Don’t get me wrong. I think ending federal marijuana prohibition is a good idea. I also hope that taxing the drug will be a good source of revenue for states and the federal government. Paul Callan knows that this is a popular argument. But when you think about it, taxing vices hasn’t always been the cure for all ills. Gambling has been legal and taxed for years in places like Atlantic City, where it is the town’s primary industry. Has anyone strolled down that town’s main drag lately? It’s hardly a monument to American prosperity. Speaking of gambling, how about the lottery? State-sponsored gambling is heavily taxed and supposedly goes to help senior citizens and schools. But, would Paul Callan honestly say that the net effect of the lottery on society has been a good one? Hopefully marijuana taxation will be different. Early reports are positive: marijuana generates a lot of tax revenue in the legalized states. But there’s good reason to remain skeptical.
Callan: Yes, Danny raises a legitimate point that taxing vices often fails to raise the large amounts of revenue promised. Things like the lottery seem to generate more money for state bureaucracies than for education. Although Atlantic City looks grim, the gambling vice tax is thriving in Las Vegas, Indian Reservations around the country and even in Bethlehem, PA in Danny’s home state. The lesson is that you must carefully pick the vice you seek to tax. Given the track record to date marijuana seems a winner on the tax revenue side. In Colorado and Oregon, recreational use has spawned a $7.1 billion tax-generating industry. And for vice comparison purposes, the taxing of alcohol has proven to be quite lucrative to the states. Alcohol taxes yielded over $9 billion in revenues in 2015 with projections of $10.18 billion by 2021. As a drug which is arguably far less dangerous, marijuana is likely to generate an even greater revenue stream. The states are finding it difficult to overlook such a revenue stream given the thriving underground economy where only illegal producers and dealers enjoy the profit. If Mr. Trump really does want to lower corporate and personal income taxes, legalized, taxed marijuana may be of assistance in achieving that goal.

5. Many argue that cannabis is no more dangerous than alcohol, yet it’s illegal under the laws of many states and the federal government. Is it fair to treat the substances differently under law?

Callan: No. Wisely, Cevallos will not even fight me on this one. Marijuana is far less dangerous than alcohol and there is a great hypocrisy in permitting legal sales of the older generation’s vice, alcohol, while locking up younger Americans who partake of the far less dangerous marijuana. Of course it must be conceded that the drug is not without serious risks, particularly for those with a propensity toward drug abuse. This is yet another reason to allow experimentation on a state level to see how legalization works out in the real world. As for the Cevallos argument that a teetotaling POTUS will resist legalization, there are more than a few reasons to suggest otherwise. He has previously indicated support for medical marijuana stating: “In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state. Marijuana is such a big thing. I think medical should happen, right? Don’t we agree? I think so. And then I really believe we should leave it up to the states.” Washington Post, October 29, 2015 And let’s face it, most liberals and progressives would have to be under the influence of drugs to support him, so there may be new Trump supporters if legalization succeeds. Though, let’s hope the new president maintains his teetotaling ways as heaven help us all if POTUS starts smoking “Trump Weed” before preparing his next 3 a.m. tweet.
Cevallos: No. Paul Callan has me here. Prohibiting marijuana and allowing alcohol makes zero sense. But then again, nothing about vice crimes is “fair” or even “logical.” In fact, alcohol is much more dangerous than marijuana. Not only is it bad for your body, it’s a major contributor to accidents, and violence. But the real question is: could Mr. Callan convince Mr. President? Our new POTUS is a self-described teetotaler, a nondrinker and non-drug user. And he’s not the kind who stopped drinking because he used to have a problem, who hit a Bukowski-like bottom and turned his life around in AA. Trump is the kind who says he has never had a sip of alcohol in his life. Those people are intense. They usually like order and control. It’s easy to imagine Trump might be intolerant of vices like marijuana. Then again, he’s been socially liberal in many ways too. It’s hard to predict where his administration will come down on the marijuana industry.

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Not far into the Trump administration, we are marking history’s most chaotic authoritarian rule via a narcissist’s Twitter account and a radical right wing presidential puppeteer, Stephen Bannon, who just moved on to the National Security Council. Despite Neil Gorsuch’s tenure on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, he has made few public announcements about cannabis policy. One way to gather more information is to look at his rulings. In one case, covered by the New York Daily News, Gorsuch governed a marijuana industry tax case in which a Colorado dispensary was forced by the IRS to pay taxes on their business expenses, which one typically is permitted to deduct. The dispensary in question deducted theirs but did not wish to disclose the nature of their business.

Gorsuch ruled against the dispensary, although he did go out on a limb and question the government’s strange and confusing federal versus state government pot laws and the “mixed messages” that continue to dumbfound all of us. Gorsuch stated, “This case owes its genesis to the mixed messages the federal government is sending these days about the distribution of marijuana. So it is that today prosecutors will almost always overlook federal marijuana distribution crimes in Colorado but the tax man never will.”

While Gorsuch didn’t care for the mixed messages, he didn’t really say which side of the fence he was on. He went on to wonder how the IRS gets to cash in on a business the feds consider illegal. This leaves the question lingering to many people: who has the final word and will the federal government respect the will of the people who have voted to legalize cannabis in over 50% of the United States?

Another clue on Gorsuch’s viewpoint came out on the Joint Blog, which reported that a former student of Gorsuch’s asked him several years ago whether he supported legalization of marijuana or not. Gorsuch responded by saying that, at the very least, he supports “the federal government getting out of the business of prohibiting in.” Still unsure what that means. Gorsuch also recognized the Obama administration’s willingness to allow legal cannabis states to work out their own problems. He even expressed worry that everything could come crashing down in the event of a new attorney general.

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Recently Jeff Sessions held his confirmation hearing, during which he was asked various types of questions from Senators. Some of those questions specifically dealt with the subject of marijuana. The nomination of Jeff Sessions for United States Attorney General has caused a great amount of risk in the marijuana world, both in America and overseas. President Donald Trump has made remarks in the past that he supports reform, but has also made comments contradicting what he previously said.

If you are an ‘actions speak louder than words’ person like me, then the nomination of Jeff Sessions likely scares you to your core. Jeff Sessions gave answers to the marijuana-related questions from his confirmation hearing. Those answers were neatly compiled and included in today’s ‘Tom Angell Report. The Tom Angell Report is jam packed with all types of marijuana information, whether it be local, state, national, or international news.

  • “While I am generally familiar with the Cole memorandum, I am not privy to any internal Department of Justice data regarding the effectiveness and value of the policies contained within that memorandum. I will certainly review and evaluate those policies, including the original justifications for the memorandum, as well as any relevant data and how circumstances may have changed or how they may change in the future.”

    “I will not commit to never enforcing Federal law. Whether an arrest and investigation of an individual who may be violating the law is appropriate is a determination made in individual cases based on the sometimes unique circumstances surrounding those cases, as well as the resources available at the time.”

    A new federal court ruling that a Congressional rider prevents the Justice Department from going after people complying with state medical marijuana laws “is relatively recent, and I am not familiar with how other courts may have interpreted the relevant appropriations language or the Ninth Circuit’s opinion. As an emerging issue, that is one that will need to be closely evaluated in light of all relevant law and facts. I will conduct such a review. Of course, medical marijuana use is a small part of the growing commercial marijuana industry.”

    Regarding “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” “My words have been grossly mischaracterized and taken out of context. I was discussing the value of treating people for using dangerous and illegal drugs like marijuana, and the context in which treatment is successful.”

    “I echo Attorney General Lynch’s comments [on marijuana being illegal], and commit, as she did, to enforcing federal law with respect to marijuana, although the exact balance of enforcement priorities is an ever-changing determination based on the circumstances and the resources available at the time.”

    “I will defer to the American Medical Association and the researchers at the National Institutes of Health and elsewhere about the medical effects of marijuana. Without having studied the relevant regulations in depth, I cannot say whether they may need to be eased in order to advance research; but, I will review this.”

    The Judiciary Committee is scheduled to recognize Sessions’ nomination but Democrats have hinted they will try to set back the vote.

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Following the legalization of recreational marijuana in four states, there are at least eleven other states considering changing their policies this year.

1. Connecticut
Not only are lawmakers expecting to expand Connecticut’s five-year-old medical cannabis legislation, but Martin Looney, the state’s Democratic Senate President pro tem, introduced a bill recently that would legalize marijuana for recreational use.

2. Missouri
The Missouri Recreational Marijuana Legalization Initiative did not make the ballot in 2016, however the state did pass medical use. Missouri’s secretary of state, Jason Kander, has endorsed a petition behind the initiative pushing to legalize recreational use.

3. New Hampshire
Senate Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn said he would introduce recreational legislation this year, but first, a group of legislators introduced House Bill 215 on January 4, commissioning a study of the current cannabis laws in other states. Results of that research will be released on December 1, 2017.

4. New York
Governor Andrew Cuomo recently proposed a measure that would decriminalize cannabis, according to the Washington Times. In his 2017 legislative agenda, he wrote, “Data consistently show that recreational users of marijuana pose little to no threat to public safety.”

5. Rhode Island
For seven years, Rhode Island lawmakers have introduced legislation that would allow the use of marijuana recreationally. It would impose a 23% tax.

6. South Carolina
South Carolina passed a bill in 2014 allowing cannabis oil for medical use, however lawmakers recently introduced the South Carolina Compassionate Care Act, which would legalize cannabis for terminally ill individuals, as well as people with “debilitating medical conditions.”

7. Tennessee
Two cities in Tennessee have already decriminalized marijuana; recently, Representative Jeremy Faison told The Marijuana Times that he wants full medical use across the state and plans to introduce a bill in the 2017 legislative session to legalize medicinal use.

8. Texas
On the first day of the 2017 legislative session, lawmakers in TX filed multiple requests to decriminalize cannabis. Instead of being thrown in jail, anyone caught with minor amounts of marijuana would be charged with a civil infraction and a $250 fine.

9. Utah
House Speaker Greg Hughes told the Deseret News that medical cannabis could be the biggest issue of the session. However, word on the street is that most legislators in Utah think it is smart to wait for the federal government to act.

10. Virginia
Governor Terry McAuliffe stated he wishes to legalize medical cannabis this year, and legislators in Virginia are following through. They filed a bill this month to decriminalize cannabis and only fine for possession.

11. Wisconsin
Medical cannabis is only legal for people suffering from seizures in Wisconsin, but lawmakers hope to expand the current law to make medicinal marijuana legal for all.

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The Farm, a pot shop in Boulder, Colorado is staffed with cannabis advocates, known as “bud-tenders.” The shop is booming, to the benefit of all Boulder’s residents. The city’s sales tax on recreational marijuana is almost 23% and high demand for warehouse space from cannabis farmers points to a boom. Colorado is expected to have collected almost $135 million from marijuana taxes last year. Following its example, recreational marijuana will be legal in seven states and Washington, DC. Another 24 states allow cannabis to be used for medicinal purposes.

Because marijuana is still illegal under federal law, any pot shop is, in effect, a US attorney-general’s impulse away from closure. Senator Jeff Sessions, whom Trump has nominated to be attorney-general, has a different view. He said, “We need grown-ups in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized.” He also stated, “good people don’t smoke marijuana.” Trump has taken conflicting positions on the issue. When Trump was campaigning, he said whether marijuana should be legal was a matter for individual states to decide. But he also called Colorado’s cannabis regime “a real problem.” Vice-president-elect Mike Pence has presided over one of America’s toughest anti-cannabis administrations.

Marijuana advocates are worried. Andrew Freedman, Colorado’s director of marijuana a coordination said, “There’s very good reason to be concerned. This could become an enforcement priority.” A spokesman for The Farm, Adam Dickey, agreed. “It’s a little scary, we are very concerned, though we’re not in full-on panic mode yet,” Dickey stated. It’s difficult to envision Senator Sessions carrying out the clampdown he wants. Almost 60% of Americans say they are in favor of legalizing pot. That represents a swelling consensus in favor of legalization. There is no reason to expect that increasingly casual attitude to go into reverse. Legalizing marijuana looks largely successful.

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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.

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Avid Donald Trump supporter, Governor Paul LePage, tried to convince Maine voters that legalizing recreational marijuana would be a “deadly” disaster for the state, to no avail. The Governor of Maine is now trying to do away with medicinal cannabis.

On Election Day voters barely approved question 1, which legalizes two and a half ounces of cannabis and six mature plants for adults 21 and over. Since the margin of victory was so close, the opponents requested a recount. Now delayed because of a lack of volunteers from the opposing side to help count, the results will have to wait until 2017.

While awaiting results LePage is trying to convince the state legislature to do away with medicinal marijuana. “Why do we need medical marijuana? I see no need,” he stated during an interview on Thursday with news radio station WGAN. “You don’t need a prescription to buy a Bayer aspirin. Why do you need a prescription to buy medical or recreational marijuana?”

Governor LePage appeared in a t.v. ad in which he falsely stated that the legalization of marijuana has led to many traffic deaths in other states and that “people addicted to marijuana are three times as likely to become addicted to heroin.”

When Maine voters didn’t fall for it, LePage threatened that he’d be “talking” to President-elect Donald Trump about the state’s cannabis concern. Trump has selected Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions to run the Justice Department. Sessions once stated that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

If that doesn’t help undo things, Governor LePage will see if he can get the state legislature to debilitate the will of the voters and do away with medical cannabis he stated during his radio interview.

“If there ever were a bill that the legislature should just kibosh, that’s it,” he stated. To make matters worse LePage would also like higher taxes on marijuana sales if they decide to keep it around.

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2016 broke records for legalization of marijuana with four more states going legal. Sixty five million people currently live in states where adults 21 and over can possess weed and medical marijuana. A record that will be held for at least two years. AlterNet points out that 2017 is not an election year; therefore, there will not be many voter initiatives and definitely no major ones that require big turnout such as legalization.

This signifies that any advancements to be made regarding drug policy will need to be made by policymakers and elected lawmakers on the state level. Considering that for a law to pass it requires legislative approval as well as the signature of a governor and since politicians (greatly depend on relationships with police for their political livelihood) have proven to be the least likely to get anything done on this issue; this does not look good for the marijuana industry.

Mix this with a Donald Trump administration who is likely to have a negative impact on drug policy reform (considering his choices for attorney general and Secretary of Health) and it could be a torturous two years. There is still a chance. Currently some states have advanced through the normal professional lawmaker process, some limited medical marijuana programs or low-to-no-THC-only laws, such as the ones in Hawaii and Texas.

Even though cannabis is a bipartisan issue with a winning record this year in red states, the best indicators of legalization appear to be regional. In 2014, Oregon and Alaska followed Washington and Colorado and this year, legalization conquered in two New England states as well as two western states. On this note, AlterNet points out five states with a high probability of being the next ones legalizing, to which we added a sixth suggestion.

Connecticut

Legalization has two precursors: legal medical marijuana and decriminalized possession. For example: if an adult can have a specific quantity because they are ill and a specific quantity already will not result in an arrest and a prosecution; the next step is to allow all adults to possess that amount. Seems simple and considering Connecticut has implemented the first two, it makes sense to assume the third may come next. A few days following Massachusetts legalization; immediately on the state’s north, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy stated that a reexamination of “our position of enforcement” would be likely “based on what some surrounding states are doing.” AlterNet believes that having Malloy on board is important because it would eliminate the need of overriding any potential veto.

Maryland

Most people who work in Washington, D.C., where adult-use marijuana is legal, either live in Virginia or Maryland. If they are pro-cannabis they favor Maryland where medical marijuana was legalized in 2014 and where decriminalization took place in 2015. Republican Larry Hogan; the current governor, is against marijuana, but polls are in favor of legalization. AlterNet noted that only a few obstructionist committee chairs stopped legalization bills from advancing in both of the state’s legislative chambers.

New Hampshire

Newly elected Republican governor Chris Sununu “is clearly on record in favor of decriminalizing marijuana possession,” as per the Marijuana Policy Project and nearby states Massachusetts and Maine both appear to have legalized recreational marijuana. (Massachusetts did handily; a recount is underway in Maine.)

If decriminalization comes fast, there should be more momentum in the state House of Representatives to revisit the legalization bill passed in 2014. The state’s lower chamber approved a bill that January that would have legalized, taxed and regulated cannabis in the same way it is being approved by voters across the country.

That bill was dead after the then-governors threat to veto and efforts to revive it went nowhere, but it reveals support that has definitely increased in the ensuing three years.

New Mexico

Besides California; New Mexico is the bluest state in the Sun Belt. New Mexico’s neighbor to the north is Colorado, where legalization is a success. New Mexico has had medical marijuana since 2007. Polling is strong with medical cannabis at 61 percent. That generally signifies a ballot initiative would be a good bet. State Sen. Jerry Ortiz said he plans to introduce a constitutional amendment that would initiate a legalization vote. New Mexico also has a lawmaker focused on legalization in the state house. Rep. Bill McCamley is promising to introduce a legalization bill for the third time.

Rhode Island

Usually what happens in Massachusetts happens in Rhode Island even though one could argue that pot is a Rhode Island thing. Decriminalization passed here four years ago. AlterNet points out that even though they have never been voted on, legalization bills have been introduced in the state legislature yearly over the last six years.

Vermont

In the Left Coast of New England; Vermont gave us U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. Vermont was on its way to legalizing through the state house before a legalization bill died in the lower chamber. Despite the roadblock, both houses of the legislature agreed to keep the issue alive. According to a 2015 report from the RAND Corporation, Vermonters love pot. The study found that approximately 12 percent of the state’s residents are regular cannabis consumers. Also, cannabis is a $175 million annual business for the state of fewer than 630,000 people.

This signifies there is a natural, built-in constituency for any pro-weed politician—one of whom, Sen. Dick Sears, referred to Massachusetts’ legalization as a “game-changer.” Even the Republican governor, anti-regulation Phil Scott, says he “can appreciate the discussion around ending the prohibition of marijuana.” If we had to bet on the next state to go legal, we would put our money on Vermont.

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Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III will be the next Attorney General of the United States. Sessions is an Alabama senator. He has previously been criticized due to racial comments he has made. Republicans on a Senate committee stopped his nomination for federal judge in 1986 following comments he made (after former colleagues testified) such as: using the n-word, agreeing with someone who said a white lawyer who represents black defendants is a “race traitor” and addressing African-American lawyers as “boy.” Sessions also stated he considers the Voting Rights Act “an intrusive piece of legislation.”

His most repulsive comment was a “joke” saying he thinks the Ku Klux Klan is “okay, until he learned that they smoked marijuana.” Sessions is not enthusiastic about weed. Recently, at a Senate hearing this year; he said that “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” adding:

“We need grown-ups in charge in Washington saying marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought to be minimized, that it is in fact a very real danger. You can see the accidents, traffic deaths related to marijuana. And you’ll see cocaine and heroin increase more than it would have, I think.”

It has been proven to be false that marijuana is a “gateway drug.” Research results have also cast doubt on the traffic death claim. (When “age and alcohol are factored in,” The Washington Post reports, “THC didn’t appear to play huge role in deadly car accidents.”) Sessions’ negativity towards cannabis goes way back to the Reagan era. “I think one of [Obama's] great failures, it’s obvious to me, is his lax treatment in comments on marijuana. It reverses 20 years almost of hostility to drugs that began really when Nancy Reagan started ‘Just Say No.’”

If Sessions gives the federal government orders to crack-down on users and dispensaries in legal-weed states, it would be in direct conflict with the “states’ rights” philosophy that supposedly governs modern conservatism. That is; however, what led him to refer to a federal law that defended the voting rights of African-American citizens in his state as “intrusive.”

It is quite obvious that the Drug War and race have some correlation. African-American defendants’ sentences are 20 percent longer than their white counterparts. As per the ACLU, African-Americans are more likely to be subject to two-strike and three-strike laws. This is horrible for nonviolent drug offenders (and disproportionate): A study from 2013 found over 3,000 people are currently in prison for life due to nonviolent drug crimes; of which sixty-five percent are black. In Louisiana (next to Sessions’ Alabama), ninety one percent of the prisoners serving life for nonviolent offenses were black.

It is no surprise Sessions is strongly against marijuana. The concern is whether or not Trump will allow him to do some damage. Trump stated during his campaign that marijuana policy was best left to the states. We will soon see if his administration will put their money where their mouth is.

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The Democrat representing California’s 12th District, who is also the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, told the Los Angeles Times that she will stand in support at the polls for Proposition 64.

“I will vote for it, but I have not made a public statement about it until right this very second,” Pelosi said.

Pelosi’s pro-marijuana statement is the largest endorsement for the state’s controversial ballot measure to come from an elected official, according to CNN. Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom has been somewhat of a spokesperson for the initiative, but Governor Jerry Brown has yet to give any indication whether he is in favor of or against the proposal.

What is known is that the majority of the California voters appear to be on board with pulling the plug on the medical sector’s exclusive controls on the cannabis industry by allowing it to be taxed and regulated for every adult 21 and over. The latest USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll found that 58 percent of voters plan to support Proposition 64 in Tuesday’s election, while only 37 percent say they will oppose.

Most of the surveys released over the past month on this issue have produced similar results. There is speculation that if California decides to tear down the walls of prohibition by allowing marijuana to become part of its economic foundation the federal government could be forced to start revising the national drug policies for every adult citizen across the nation.

The manner of which this push for reform takes place could have a lot to do with the most crucial aspect of the upcoming election the question of who will take over the White House in 2017? Both Trump and Clinton seem to favor legalization for medicinal purposes, but neither candidate has yet to come out in support for the kind of reform that five more states are gunning for in tomorrow’s election. According to President Obama, the course for which the nation’s marijuana laws are potentially set to explode may no longer be at the hands of the federal government.

“If in fact, it passed in all these states, you now have about a fifth of the country that’s operating under one set of laws, and four-fifths in another,” Obama told Bill Maher during a recent interview, adding that this could create a situation where federal marijuana enforcement is no longer “Tenable.”

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