RIP Cole Memo 2013-2018 (Or: I Told You So, Again)
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has announced he is rescinding the Cole Memo, the Obama-era guidance to the US Attorneys from the Justice Department that has largely kept federal law enforcement from going after state-legal recreational marijuana businesses.
I told you so.
It was July 29, 2016, when I wrote “If You Like Legal Marijuana, You Must Vote for Hillary (Sorry)” for this website.
“Consider that a President Trump wouldn’t just be on your TV making ‘fantastic’ speeches, ‘believe me.’ He would be appointing the next Attorney General, the nation’s top cop,” I wrote in warning about a potential Attorney General Chris Christie. “I know it sucks and I don’t want to do it either, but every scenario I can imagine for the future of marijuana legalization turns out better under a President Hillary Clinton than a President Donald Trump.”
On August 2, 2016, I wrote “Consider Attorney General Christie and Drug Czar Sabet,” I noted that even under President Obama and under the Cole Memo’s protections, “Assistant US Attorney Earl Hicks prosecuted the Kettle Falls Five, state-legal medical marijuana patients growing cannabis in a state where recreational use is made legal.” I then asked readers to imagine what we’d get under a Trump Presidency.
Following the election on November 15, 2016, I wrote, “Weed’s Nightmare Trump Scenario.” I listed all the bad things I thought might happen if a crackdown on marijuana began at the federal level to all the cannabis industry people who were telling me, “Trump as the leader of the free world… could be a good thing for marijuana. He’s a business guy… so he’s all for a new big profitable economy. On the campaign trail, he said medical marijuana was fabulous and states should be allowed to pursue legalization.”
A week before Trump was sworn in as president, on January 13, 2017, I wrote “Marijuana’s Imminent Trumpocalypse,” after we knew pot-hating Jeff Sessions would be Attorney General. There, I noted all the rationalizations I was hearing from folks in the cannabis industry about how Sessions would “have bigger fish to fry,” that “the marijuana industry is too big,” that Trump “loves business and money,” that “the Trump administration won’t waste political capital going after something as popular as marijuana,” and that Trump was “states’ rights for marijuana legalization.”
On September 15, 2017, I wrote, “Sessions’ DOJ Wants to Crackdown on Weed—But Will They?” There I noted all of the emerging indications that the federal government was preparing for a marijuana crackdown, such as Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein deflecting a question about rescinding the Cole Memo by stating, “We are reviewing that policy. We haven’t changed it, but we are reviewing it… I think there is some pretty significant evidence that marijuana turns out to be more harmful than a lot of people anticipated, and it’s more difficult to regulate than I think was contemplated ideally by some of those states.”
So, as this latest policy unfolds, if you’ve thrown all your money and energy into creating your brand-new state-legal cannabis business, only to find an unfriendly US Attorney hauling you into court and ruining your life, know that the first question I will ask you after listening to your story will be, “Did you vote for Hillary Clinton?”
Elections have consequences. Go ahead and console yourself with mantras of “Hillary woulda started World War III, and what about her emails!” or “Bernie Sanders was screwed by the DNC!” or “Gary Johnson this” or “Jill Stein that” or “voting doesn’t matter because the elite one-percent Illuminati control everything, anyway.”
But you and I both know that in two-party winner-take-all American politics, there was only one way to stop the Trump Train on November 8, 2016, and that was a vote for Hillary Clinton.
Looking forward, there is still hope. Maybe a direct Republican attack on marijuana is what it takes for Democrats to finally represent us.
On February 28, 2017, I wrote, “Civil Cold War: The Oncoming State-Federal Marijuana Battle,” where I noted all of the state and federal elected officials in the legal marijuana state vowing to fight the Trump Administration if it should crack down on their cannabis businesses.
I really hope those officials stick to their guns and forcefully attack the Trump Administration over this issue. In a sane world, the Democratic National Committee would be whipping up a unanimous and vocal battle to protect legalization that now 20 percent of the country enjoys and 64 percent of the country supports.
Of course, if Democrats were sane, they wouldn’t have nominated the only candidate who could have possibly lost to Donald Trump in the first place, so all bets are off.
One thing is for certain: If you want to protect state-legal marijuana and ensure more states can join us, you’d better damn well vote for Democrats in the US Congress on November 6, 2018.