Could Jeff Sessions End Legal Marijuana?

President-elect Donald Trump announced on Thursday that Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) will be the next U.S. Attorney General - which triggers some questions on what that means for one of the country's fastest-growing industries....

could jeff sessions end legal marijuana
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) in Washington, DC.

Sessions is arguably best known for his conservative views on immigration and civil rights. He was a leading opponent of President Obama's executive amnesty order in 2007, which gave jobs and benefits to undocumented immigrants. He also defends "traditional Alabama values," which conflict with same-sex marriage laws in America, according to his official website.

The Alabama senator has also been an outspoken critic on the nation's burgeoning marijuana industry.

In fact, Sessions is firmly against legalizing pot for recreational or for medicinal use.

"We need grown-ups in charge in Washington to say marijuana is not that kind of thing that ought to be legalized," Sessions claimed in a Senate meeting on April 5.

In the same Senate meeting, Sessions claimed, "This drug is dangerous, you cannot play with it, it is not funny, it's not something to laugh about . . . and [it's important] to send that message with clarity that good people don't smoke marijuana."

At a time when the marijuana industry is just starting to secure a legitimate foothold in the U.S. economy, could Jeff Sessions end legal marijuana?

If that's the senator's ultimate goal, it might be easier said than done, because of actions set forth by the Obama administration...

Cole Memo Protects States from Federal Action

In 2013, the Justice Department released a memorandum, dubbed the "Cole Memo," that outlined what circumstances would call for federal law enforcement to intervene on the marijuana issues of individual states. Basically, so long as the states are effectively able to regulate and enforce their marijuana policies, there would be need for intervention.

Congress has also prohibited the Justice Department from using federal funds to interfere with medical marijuana patients if the drug has been approved in their state.

Sessions believes that President Barack Obama's administration has allowed the issue of legal marijuana to be "minimized." On April 5, he stated "I think the DEA understands this, but I'm not sure that the President does," when discussing the dangers he believes marijuana presents.

In order to curb the president's allegedly lax stance on marijuana, Sessions appealed for the federal government to step in. Uncle Sam, apparently, can reverse what Sessions believes to be "the dangerous impacts of marijuana legalization," as he called it on April 5 at the Senate hearing.

"Good people don't smoke marijuana."

Specifically, the Alabama senator suggested that federal prosecutors start prosecuting cases of marijuana use in Colorado.

But his request immediately fell flat...

That's because the Obama administration said "no, don't do that" and asked the feds to stay out of the states' business by issuing the Cole Memo.

Trending Now: Steve Bannon: 5 Things to Know About Trump's Top Advisor

Now that a new administration will be entering the White House in January, the Cole Memo could be scrapped completely and Sessions could have his way.

But that seems unlikely, given President-elect Donald Trump's stance on marijuana...

[mmpazkzone name="in-story" network="9794" site="307044" id="137008" type="4"]

Could Jeff Sessions End Legal Marijuana Under a President Trump?

Sessions' opinions on marijuana legalization actually differ quite a bit from those of President-elect Donald Trump's.

For example, on Feb. 10, Trump said he supports medical marijuana for patients who need it. "I know people that have serious problems and they did that they really - it really does help them," he said in support of medical use.

Must Read: Use Legalized Marijuana, and You'll Lose Your 2nd Amendment Rights

And on Oct. 27 at a rally in Nevada, the real-estate mogul said, "In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state."

So, should the issue make its way into a battle between the new Attorney General and the soon-to-be U.S. Commander-in-Chief, Trump could handily overrule Sessions.

An expert on the matter claimed that, if this situation were to play out, Sessions would surely be defeated in the end...

"It would be political suicide for the Trump administration to go against a campaign promise [state-by-state measures] on a hugely popular issue that won even among their demographic," Troy Dayton, CEO of The Arcview Group, an investment and market research firm in the cannabis industry, stated to NPR on Nov. 22.

Public supporters of marijuana legalization are likewise preparing to defend the small, new industry as well...

"California voters supported legalization by a historic and overwhelming margin," said Lt. Gov. Gavin Newom, a prominent supporter of California's marijuana measures, on Dec. 1 to the LA Times. "Their elected leaders are not going to stand aside and allow the Senator from Alabama to turn back California's clock."

"We would expect appointees who serve at the pleasure of the president to stick to the president's position on this subject. It would certainly be controversial if Sen. Sessions completely defied the president who appointed him," said Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project, to USA Today on Dec 1.

Public and expert support notwithstanding, perhaps the most pertinent issue related to marijuana legalization is the tax revenue involved. States and businesses rely on this income in order to build schools, repair roads, and stabilize budgets.

In fact, according to the Tax Foundation on May 12, marijuana tax collections in Colorado alone exceeded initial estimates of over $43 million from 2013-2015.

Should legalization become status quo nationwide one day, the country could see up to $28 billion in revenue for federal, state, and local governments, according to the same report from the Tax Foundation.

And that's a business boon America - and investors - would like...

Up Next:

Money Morning strives to guide our readers towards their financial goals by helping them invest in the best stocks. That's why we're offering a 90-page roadmap to investing in this promising industry right now. This "bible of weed investing" is absolutely free to our readers, and you can get your copy right here...

Follow Money Morning on Twitter @moneymorning or Facebook.

Related Articles:

20 Marijuana Stocks to Watch in 2017

A Trump Presidency Means Good Things for This Pharma Stock