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Trump and Sessions Seem Focused on Cartels, Not Cannabis

February 14, 2017
Federal Police patrol on the perimeters of the Altiplano maximum security prison in Almoloya, west of Mexico City, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016, where Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, head of the Sinaloa drug cartel, is being held after his recapture on Friday. Guzman was sent back to the maximum-security prison from where he escaped last July 11 through an elaborate tunnel that was dug to shower stall. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)
President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have yet to directly address the issue of cannabis legalization and the state-federal schism, which has led to all kinds of rumors flying about.

One rumor, floated on a cannabis blog recently, held that Press Secretary Sean Spicer told a reporter named “Rebecka Brian” that the Trump administration is “unlikely” to go after legalized states.

MassRoots reporter Tom Angell looked into the quote and found nothing to it. Angell reached out directly to Spicer and received a succinct reply: “I have no clue where that came from.”

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So what’s the real story? Where does Sessions stand on cannabis?

A recent interview on Capital Public Radio in Sacramento may provide some insight into the nebulous mindset of the Trump Administration.

Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones spoke to new attorney general Jeff Sessions last week while in Washington, DC, for a law enforcement convention. Jones then relayed that conversation to Bob Moffitt, a Sacramento reporter for Capital Public Radio. Jones said he made a point of bringing up immigration and cannabis policy with Sessions, who at the time was still awaiting confirmation by the full Senate.

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“Regarding the prioritization of federal resources to combat marijuana, he didn’t see the federal government getting involved in marijuana use or low-level state, what are traditionally state and local crimes,” Sheriff Jones told the radio reporter. “But I don’t think he ruled out the possibility of the federal government getting involved in larger-scale operations.”

If this is, indeed, the case, it wouldn’t be a far cry from the policy of the Obama Administration. Obama generally maintained a laissez-faire approach to state-by-state legalization, but some legal state operations still suffered federal raids and indictments.

Sheriff Jones indicated that Sessions might be more inclined to go after drug cartels–which, it’s worth pointing out, are suffering due to the expansion of legalization in the United States.

Lisa Rough's Bio Image

Lisa Rough

Lisa is a former associate editor at Leafly, where she specialized in legislative cannabis policy and industry topics.

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  • lovingc

    The only way to stop illegal drugs from coming into the country is to legalize all drugs regulate the distribution and treat addiction as a public health issue. The legalization of cannabis in four states has already reduced the flow of cannabis across the border. Legalize NOW!

  • cinderabi

    What Mr. trump is doing makes total sense to me. We may not like him as a person and wonder how he could have possibly been elected to “run” this country with his obvious undiplomatic and spoiled child mentality, but folks… this man is not STUPID. He has been able to create quite an empire through his savvy business acumen and a nose for what the future holds in store regarding economic growth in this country. Wall Street is on its tippy toes right now waiting for a few more states to get hip to how they can fill their state coffers with green stuff, and the answer is to legalize the OTHER green stuff for both biomedical research/growth and recreational use, the latter of which will inevitably result in a rapid rise in tourism dollars because folks like me will leave their boring and predictable “dry” states behind to relax and unwind in whatever nearby free state is willing to share their crops with us by offering them in a fashion that says “Welcome All”. The buzz is that within the next four years Prohibition as we know it will be OVER! Maybe states like Mass, with its beer-driven mentality will fight this for awhile, but eventually, when Maine is flush with green and RI becomes “the little state that could” and reaps in what could have been THEIR tourist trade revenue, they will either change with the times or sink into a crappy economic slump that will only result in higher taxes across the board for the folks who were trying to come up with a way to SHRINK those taxes by legalizing pot.
    So while The Donald may have chosen his most infamous backwoods thinking pit bull to be the Attorney General, the point, as I see it, is for the US to hunker down at the border and confiscate every illegal shipment of whatever dares to attempt to cross into our “Holy Land”. And really…. curbing drugs like cocaine, heroin & Meth is a good thing. These drugs KILL. Cannabis, on the other hand, is a God-given non-habit-forming botanical that heals on a wide variety of levels and is a far less dangerous and more pleasant way to chill out than alcohol (the real gateway drug) could ever hope to be. Also, as far as our own product is concerned… word has it that what WE grow is far, far superior to the ragweed that makes it into this country illegally. And these lesser-grade imports also can cut into the profits to be made by marketing our own botanicals for healing and enjoyment.
    I may be nuts, I may be having another one of my “pipe dreams”, but this is what I see for the future. Once the brakes are released and the wheels begin to turn on a truckload of big financial possibility that was always parked on a slippery slope, it will move quickly down the hill of fear-mongering to land at the base of the mountain of propaganda and flourish in the valley of THE JOLLY GREEN GIANT.
    HO HO HO

    • lovingc

      You must be as ignorant as the so-called president.

      • cinderabi

        Maybe… maybe not. I’m a dreamer. The world needs dreamers darlin because IF U CAN DREAM IT IT CAN BE MADE REAL!

    • douglasawillinger

      “…drugs like cocaine, heroin & Meth is a good thing. These drugs KILL.
      Cannabis, on the other hand, is a God-given non-habit-forming botanical…”

      What about Coca leaves and Opium?

  • Excuse me

    If Trump focuses on Cartel violence that is great news. Someone should. I have opined repeatedly that Cartel operations, either in the country grown or out, are destroying lives and making our streets and are national forests dangerous places. Cannabis should be grown locally, by residents who care about healthy, toxin free products, not grown in Sinaloa or in our remote forests with abundant toxic chemicals, slave tenders and mules.

  • Chas Hue

    Sessions is dangerous to liberty and Trump is unhinged. Sessions predictable and Trump erratic.
    I don’t know how this is going to play out in regard to legal cannabis but JS is by account close-minded and resistant to change.
    He is “old south” and unrepentant. Remember, he favored the 100 to 1 penalty ratio for prison sentences when Crack vs Cocaine was the offense.
    He felt he was being benevolent when he allowed a compromise to 18 to 1. “Black/Brown” drug bad, “White” drug…. not so much.
    Regarding Cannabis and State Rights, well,…. time will tell.

  • hanscom

    If a Trump let’s legal cannabis go forward then Mexican Cartels will pay for the Wall thru lost revenue–about $12 billion per year. He said Mexico would pay for the Wall. Never said the Mexican government!!!

  • jontomas

    Yes. – This meeting was a good sign. – Also, Colorado Governor Hickenlooper thinks Trump’s okay with marijuana in the legal states.

    >>>”While in California recently to testify at a California state Senate hearing, Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado, whose voters voted to legalize cannabis in 2012, said he “would be very disappointed if the new attorney general came in and just stamped everything down and started sending in the federal troops everywhere.”

    “Every indication is that President Trump, he knows what he wants, he’s got his own value system and that he’s going to try and run the show,” Hickenlooper said. “We’re optimistic that he is going to let the experiment continue.”

    http://www.sfgate.com/news/articleComments/Trump-may-allow-states-some-leeway-with-marijuana-10941928.php

    In January, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer answered a reporter’s concerns about Trump’s promises to support state medical marijuana programs under prohibitionist AG Sessions. Spicer answered:

    “When you come into the Trump administration, it’s the Trump agenda you are implementing, not your own. And I think Senator Sessions is well aware of that.”

  • hugh bell

    Less narcotics is a great idea! Unfortunately, Trump’s war against the Mexican migrants is not a good idea. I live in the Salad Bowl of the World and when we have no field workers left here to harvest and when Mexico stops shipping the billions of dollars of foods that we eat every day–well, all our food expenditures will skyrocket and none of us will even be able to afford cannabis–let alone narcotics!