U.S. Attorney General Jess Sessions announced last week that the federal government will enforce the fight against marijuana.
However, many predict that this move by the Trump administration will go up in smoke, if you will, due to the outrage from Republican lawmakers and a growing cannabis business that more and more states are legalizing.
The move first of all reeked – sorry – of politics because it was a direct slap against California which is engaged in a high-profile battle with the Trump administration over sanctuary cities for undocumented immigrants and medical marijuana laws.
The harshest criticism has come from local and state government officials where cannabis programs generate much-needed medicine and tax revenue, according to media reports. Colorado has earned a billion dollars from selling marijuana.
One media pundit said the decision does not amount to much of a substantive change in policy. It would be left to local US attorneys in various districts to decide how and when to enforce the federal laws.
“Apart from Sessions’ announcement being unpopular, it really doesn’t have any teeth,” CNN reported. “The medical and legal cannabis industry has grown so big that it would be impossible to make a dent in it — let alone stamp it out through federal enforcement.”
Obama had left enforcement of marijuana laws up to the individual states to regulate, and now over half of the states have legalized marijuana in some form. Many have adopted medical marijuana laws, although the threat of federal crackdown makes some nervous.
There are eight states including California, Colorado, Washington and Nevada that permit recreational or adult use of cannabis.
Will Illinois be next?
Although the current Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is against legalizing recreational marijuana, the three Democrat gubernatorial candidates J.B. Pritzker, Dan Biss and Chris Kennedy all say they support legalizing weed in our state. Pritzker told the media he favors legalization for safety and criminal justice reform, Kennedy said he’s for “full decriminalization” but would like to see university studies on the effects of cannabis, while Biss said the marijuana laws unfairly punish minorities.
Studies show whites and blacks smoke the same amount of marijuana, however, black people are much more likely to be arrested and charged for possession of marijuana than white people.
Chicago decriminalized small amounts of marijuana possession, but cops are still arresting minorities for smoking more than the allotted amount.
Chris Stone, CEO of the medical marijuana dispensary in Illinois, told Civilized.life that our state will legalize marijuana by 2019 and begin operation in 2020, citing the history of states passing medical marijuana (IL legalized medical marijuana) and then approving recreational use a short time later.
Perhaps the biggest argument for the eventual legalization of all marijuana here is Illinois budget woes. The state has a roughly $3 billion budget deficit and constantly threatens raising taxes and cutting services and pensions. By legalizing marijuana, the state would be able to tax sales and draw in tourism like in Colorado. Stone estimated this could generate $1 billion of revenue for the state each year.
Many believe Rauner is vulnerable in the next election. If a Democrat prevails, will we all be lighting up a little weed in victory? Only time will tell.