With Two Fewer Sessions in D.C. the Smoke Begins to Clear on Federal Cannabis Reform

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The results of Tuesday’s nationwide elections were, as they typically are, a mixed bag of success and disappointment, depending on what your perspective is on politics.

Looking at the results from the perspective of some cannabis lovin’ gentlemen like ourselves, big victories for legal weed in the states of Michigan, Missouri, and Utah are certainly welcome signs of progress for cannabis reform.

Be it for medical or for recreational use, marijuana legalization was a hot topic in political debates in all corners of the country this year. When the dust settled Tuesday night, the nation’s scorecard now read 33 states plus Washington D.C. with medical marijuana laws on the books, and now D.C. plus 10 states having made the leap to adult recreational use legalization.

These are major milestones, for sure, but perhaps the two most significant cannabis-related headlines to emerge since the midterm election both, ironically, involve men named Sessions.

For two unrelated men that share not only a last name, but also an extreme hatred for the cannabis plant, both Jeff Sessions and Pete Sessions find themselves out of a job today for very different reasons. But the cannabis community isn’t too picky and we’re glad to see them both go for any reason.

Soon-to-be-former Congressman Pete Sessions (R – TX) has used the unchecked power of his party’s grip on all three branches of government to create an impenetrable barrier against  any and all attempts at cannabis reform dating back to 2016.

As has been tirelessly reported over at Marijuana Moment, in his role as the Chair of the House Rules Committee, Pete Sessions quite literally blocked every single hemp or cannabis related bill that came before him – 34 of them to be exact – in a blatant and shameless disregard for democracy that kept all of those proposals from being considered and voted on by the full Congress.

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Six of these blocked amendments were focused on providing safer and easier access to medical marijuana for veterans.

Five of them were related to loosening federal banking laws to allow legal cannabis businesses to be able to compete in a fair and balanced marketplace with other small businesses.

Seven more were aimed at protecting state’s rights – a longtime plank of conservative politics – by staving off any federal interference with state level cannabis markets.  

These should be safe territory for Republicans, but Pete Sessions has shut them all down.

He is on record claiming that today’s cannabis is “on average, 300 times more powerful” than the weed of yesteryear that he swears he never smoked anyway and he refers to those involved in legal cannabis industries as “merchants of addiction”.

The last time a cannabis related proposal slipped past him was in May of 2016 when a bipartisan majority in Congress overwhelmingly approved (233-189) a measure to allow military vets to get medical marijuana recommendations from VA doctors.

Since then, however, nothing.

That ends on January 3rd of next year when Pete Sessions will be replaced by former NFL-player and pro-cannabis advocate Colin Allred who takes over in the 32nd Congressional District of Texas.

In a press release earlier this week, NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said, “Representative Pete Sessions was the single greatest impediment in the US House to the passage of common-sense, voter-supported marijuana law reform measures. His departure opens the door for the possibility of House lawmakers in 2019 enacting a number of significant, NORML-endorsed policy changes.”

  GOP Rep Pete Sessions earned his    ‘F’ grade    in NORML’s latest Congressional Scorecard

GOP Rep Pete Sessions earned his ‘F’ grade in NORML’s latest Congressional Scorecard

We’d encourage you to enjoy yourself in your sudden retirement, but it doesn’t seem that you know how.

The second sesh to get rolled this week was that bouncy, creepy little part-time Attorney General and full-time bible-thumping bootlicker, Jeff Sessions.

Jeff Sessions, you may recall, lied under oath not once, but twice during the confirmation hearings to determine if he was fit for the job of the top lawyer in the land. No Republican seems to have an answer as to why Jeff Sessions lied, twice, about his contacts with Russian officials during his time involved with the Trump campaign in 2016.

Caught white-haired and pink-faced in the lies, his Republican colleagues still confirmed him! Whatever shred of moral decency still exists in his shriveled core forced him to announce that he would recuse himself from all Russia-related matters at the Department of Justice.

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You can draw a straight line, packed with viciously demeaning tweets by the president, between that announcement and Sessions’ forced resignation on Wednesday.

On the surface there are many reasons why Americans, especially cannabis-loving Americans, can celebrate the departure of the embattled AG who once said that “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.” When asked about his thoughts on the KKK, he said they were, “OK until I found out they smoked pot.”

So yeah, good riddance.

With him out of the way, many believe that the recent headlines about the president considering legalizing cannabis on a federal level could be coming close to fruition.

But, the bigger picture dictates that the departure of Jeff Sessions has nothing to do with policies like immigration or cannabis reform, but instead has everything to do with the Special Counsel investigation into the president and his campaign staff.

This is bolstered by the fact that Trump bucked tradition and succession standards by shunning Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for the post of Acting Attorney General, and instead planted a loyalist into the position who has all but vowed to squash the Special Counsel.

The new Acting AG, a man named Matthew Whitaker, is certainly friendlier towards cannabis than his successor, but that’s really not saying much. In fact, at a 2014 debate in Iowa, Whitaker warned the moderator and audience of “extreme violence” surrounding the “illegal importation of marijuana” at the US/Mexico border. Ok, Mr. Whitaker, let’s pretend that true. Let us grow it here then!

If Whitaker makes a move to defund or dismantle Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel investigation, it’s highly likely that all hell will break loose in the nation’s capital. If that happens, the federal legalization of cannabis will fall low on the list of anyone’s priorities in D.C.

The 2018 midterm elections saw the highest level of voter turnout since 1966, and much of that enthusiasm was fueled by cannabis legalization measures on ballots nationwide.

With a reported 2/3rds of the country now in favor of federal cannabis legalization, it truly is just a matter of time, and now with two less Sessions in the way the smoke surrounding that timeline has finally begun to clear.