Attorney General Jeff Sessions just announced that he was rescinding the "Cole memo" left over from the Obama administration that directed federal prosecutors not to enforce the laws on marijuana use.
This announcement should not come as a surprise to anyone given Sessions' past comments on marijuana use. It also continues the pattern of the Trump administration basically doing everything it can to reverse policies put in place under President Obama.
That such a thing occurred in the first place is ludicrous. I don't want to get into a debate over marijuana use. There are pros and cons to legalization. That's a debate that we should have - and will have in the coming months. The issue I want to highlight is this: when we willfully ignore the laws, we end up with anarchy.
A friend in Colorado related to me that unemployment out there had essentially reached zero since the state legalized marijuana because anyone that wanted a job, HAD a job. And the pot industry paid in cash, because they knew better than to bank their money lest the feds reverse policy (as Sessions just announced today he is doing.) Since 2012, marijuana has been a legal business in Colorado. Experts estimated that 18,000 new jobs had been created by 2015. A whole tourist industry was built around it. And now the feds can just come in and legally put a stop to all of it?
Well, yes. Yes, they can. Because despite what the voters of Colorado decided, marijuana has never been legalized at the federal level. And now thousands of people could lose their jobs, their businesses, their money and even their freedom (depending on how far Sessions decides to push this thing.) In the coming days you'll hear lots of hysterical rhetoric aimed at Jeff Sessions. But he's just doing what he is obligated to do: enforce the federal laws as they are written. If anyone deserves blame for the situation, it's the people of Colorado that decided to pass this legislation, knowing that the Feds weren't obligated to allow it, and for the Obama administration for deciding to to let them.
A good comparison here is immigration law versus practice. For decades, federal immigration law has been routinely ignored. It didn't matter who was president or which party was in charge, illegal immigrants continued to pour into this country and once they were here, they pretty much got to stay. Some came across a poorly monitored Mexican border, but most entered legally and overstayed their visas. They somehow managed to find jobs, purchase houses, build communities and aid yet more illegals to come here. Even arrest on a felony warrant or imprisonment for a violent crime wasn't enough to insure deportation. Now, we're getting these heart-wrenching stories of families ripped apart and people being returned to countries they no longer have a connection to. We have young adults that were brought here by their parents while they were still children who were raised here and educated here - that don't even speak the language of their native countries. They have been allowed a temporary non-legal legal status under the DACA program that has suddenly been revoked, leaving thousands in limbo. And again everyone wants to blame Trump. But Donald Trump didn't write our immigration laws. It's not his fault that families have been here since the 80's - since the LAST time our government decided to grant a mass amnesty to them.
And the stupid part of this whole mess is that we HAVE an easy solution to the problem. If we want to legalize marijuana, we can. But it has to be done at the federal level. States could still choose what they will and will not allow in their own borders. Immigration on the other hand should only be set at the federal level. But if we want to just set an open boarder policy, we can do that. If we want to put a policy in place for deciding who to grant amnesty to, we can do that also. What we can't continue to do is allow the livelihood, freedom and residency of millions of people be left to the whim of each incoming administration.