Yesterday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he would resign at the request of President Trump. The President has frequently taken issue with Sessions over his recusal from the FBI investigation into Russian election meddling, and many predicted that Sessions would be departing soon after the midterms.
While the cannabis industry anxiously awaits the newly appointed Attorney General, the resignation of Jeff Sessions is yet another victory in the battle for cannabis reform. Only ten months ago Jeff Sessions rescinded the Cole Memo that protected state’s rights to legalize medical and recreational marijuana. He also promised to crackdown on cannabis businesses that were in violation of the federal law, but little action was ever taken.
While Jeff Sessions technically resigned, the phrasing of his resignation letter made it clear that it was at the behest of Donald Trump. “Dear Mr. President, at your request I am submitting my resignation,” Sessions penned in his letter. His predecessor will be his former Chief of Staff at the Justice Department, Matthew G. Whittaker, at least temporarily.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions was an outspoken obstructionist of marijuana reform in the U.S. and was quoted as saying “good people don’t smoke marijuana.” His refusal to acknowledge the medicinal benefits of cannabis have been a continuing problem for those pushing for reform. However, there is no guarantee that Trump’s next appointment to Attorney General will be more accepting of marijuana reform.
There were even some House Representatives that voiced their approval of Session’s resignation. Oregon Representative, Earl Blumenauer stated that, “Jeff Sessions is one of the worst Attorneys General we’ve ever had. Time and time again, he attempted to impose his own views which did not match the majority of the American people when it came to reforming our outdated marijuana laws. I look forward to working with our new majority in the House to finally end the federal government’s policy of prohibition, which continues to ruin lives—and disproportionately the lives of people of color.”
Many on Capitol Hill are hoping that Session’s departure will lead to the end of marijuana prohibition on the federal level. Not only will this generate more jobs and tax revenue but scientific research has shown that it could significantly help those affected by the opioid epidemic. News of his resignation also spurred the cannabis stocks to spike as many people on Wall St. are also anticipating that the legal status of marijuana is soon to change.
While there is no official indication from Matthew G. Whittaker as to his views on legal cannabis, in his U.S. Attorney resignation letter to President Obama he said he was "firmly committed to protecting our citizens from terrorist attacks, reducing gang and gun violence, protecting our children from predators, reducing the availability of meth, cocaine, and marijuana in our communities, and protecting the taxpayers through our civil division."
Only time will tell if Congress can push through legislation to legalize cannabis on the federal level, but with Sessions out of the picture, the odds just went up. Now that Democrats hold the House majority, it is likely that new bills are already being drafted. All we have to say about Jeff Sessions leaving the Department of Justice is...bye Felicia.