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Biden’s choice to lead the U.S. Department of Justice is expected to be more favorable to the industry after four years of Jeff Sessions and William Barr, appointees of President Donald Trump who were both hostile toward marijuana.
Sessions rescinded the Cole memo, an Obama-era policy protecting state-legal marijuana businesses from federal prosecution.
While that move rattled marijuana executives, the U.S. Department of Justice under Sessions remained mostly indifferent to the industry.
“People kept saying that with Sessions no longer attorney general, a major obstacle was removed from the cannabis movement’s progress,” Wallin told POLITICO Magazine. “I had to remind them that Jeff Sessions was not really the major problem. He had been all bluster and no action.” Instead, Wallin was focused on the departure of another Sessions — the chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee.
Since President Trump took office in January 2017, there has not been a single federal enforcement action against the US cannabis industry. President Trump has made only favorable remarks about federal cannabis policy. During the 2016 campaign, asked by a Colorado reporter whether he would enforce the federal ban on cannabis in states that had legalized, he said: “I wouldn’t do that, no…I think it’s up to the states yeah, I’m a States person.
Weed stocks were sliding from their post-election peaks Thursday as worries surfaced that the successor to former Attorney General Jeff Sessions could also be against legal marijuana.
Pot stocks rallied on Wednesday, with Tilray surging more than 30%, after Michigan became the 10th US state to legalize marijuana and as Jeff Sessions, a long-term opponent of legal weed, resigned as the US's attorney general. In January, Sessions rescinded an Obama-era policy directing states to make their own decisions on cannabis without federal.
U.S Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who less than a year ago stunned the marijuana industry by ripping up Obama-era protections for state-legal MJ businesses, has been forced out by President Trump.
The development could ease industry concerns that the Department of Justice will unleash a crackdown on state-legal marijuana businesses – though much will depend on whom Trump picks as Sessions’ permanent replacement.
Sessions said his resignation came at the president’s request.
Canadian pot company Tilray rallied 30 percent on news that U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions would step down.
Already lifted by midterm ballot measure victories, Tilray and other cannabis companies rose further on word Sessions had resigned. The nation's top law enforcer last January said he would work to revoke policy from the Obama administration that let states make their own rules on weed without hindrance from the federal government.
Canopy Growth and Aurora Cannabis, two other publicly traded Canadian pot companies, both rallied more than 8 percent.
The Trump administration’s stance, as directed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, came even as cannabis advocates made inroads across several states. New Jersey is widely expected to legalize cannabis for adult use by the end of the year. State lawmakers in Pennsylvania and New York have kicked off efforts to put recreational use on the books as well. In Connecticut, a recreational use bill made it out of committee for the first time in April.
Could Attorney General Jeff Sessions be fired?
However, this cloudy picture didn't stop pot stocks from steaming to big gains late last week after the feud between President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions escalated to new levels. In an interview with The Hill, Trump said, "I don't have an attorney general. It's very sad."
BuzzFeed's Dominic Holden reports, the ONDCP has asked agencies across the executive branch to share any information that reflects badly on marijuana legalization, including "data demonstrating the most significant negative trends." According to internal memos that Holden obtained, the material will be distilled by something called the Marijuana Policy Coordination Committee, which seems intent on getting Donald Trump to reconsider his support for letting states go their own way in this area.
Remember when Jeff Sessions tried to turn the tide against cannabis legalization? Even within his own Justice Department, the bumbling effort by the US attorney general appears to have fallen flat.
On Tuesday, the top federal prosecutor in Massachusetts—the latest state to launch a regulated retail cannabis market, though stores have yet to open—signaled that he plans to let the state’s legalization rollout move forward.