Libertarians and conservatives are pushing back against Jeff Sessions’s anti-marijuana guidance, and for legalization through legislation.
For years, libertarian conservatives have helped drive marijuana policy closer toward decriminalization and, in some cases, even legalization. They’ve argued the case on a number of fronts, from federalism and states’ rights to rapid changes in public opinion to the need for individual privacy.
Last week, the Trump administration outlined a change that could potentially signal an oncoming crackdown.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Wednesday that the administration would withdraw the Cole Memo, which provided some protection for state-level marijuana businesses from federal intervention, and other guidance related to marijuana policy. Advocates predict it will set back their movement, but the full implications of the changes aren’t known yet. In some respects, the move isn’t a total surprise, given Sessions’s longtime opposition to marijuana legalization, which worried advocates as soon as he was nominated to run the DOJ.
“Even if it’s not out of line with what [marijuana] advocates saw coming, it’s still a step in precisely the wrong direction,” Robby Soave, associate editor at Reason Magazine, a libertarian publication based in Washington, DC, told me.
“It’s remarkable: This is an open-and-shut issue for liberals, for libertarians, for young people, even for a lot of conservatives and Trump voters. They may not all like weed, but they are coming around to the position that banning it isn’t worth the effort, and in any case, this should be up to the states. Sessions’s crusade against drugs is quixotic and out of step with this.”
Sessions’s decision represents a fundamental question about the Trump administration and its approach to policymaking: How do we know what President Trump really believes — and, more importantly, what he will make into a concrete strategy? On Read More Here