If you have been following the news of late, you may have noticed that the Republican administration has hinted that federal law enforcement officials may no longer defer to the states on marijuana use. source While some states in the US have legalized cannabis for medical or recreational purposes, possession and distribution remains a federal crime.
A natural initial reaction to this is to cry foul over the hypocrisy regarding the administrations position on state’s rights. After all, state’s rights were cited as an explanation of the executive order rescinding bathroom rules applying to transgender students. In reality, I am pretty sure that state’s rights were not a consideration in either case.
The executive order on transgender bathroom use was a debt owed to the social conservatives and Mike Pence.
The potential change to marijuana policy scratches a couple of other itches, mostly having to do with Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Sessions has long been critical of marijuana use, having gone so far as to say “good people don’t smoke marijuana.” source In my opinion, however, Sessions personal view is not even the real reason for the potential change in policy.
The current administration has also rescinded the Obama era executive order aimed at reducing the federal government’s involvement with private prison contractors. source The president has been friendly with the private prison industry and even before the recent executive order, the industry has seen rising stock values, post election. source Deciding to prosecute cannabis users more aggressively will immediately create more criminals out of whole cloth, likely benefiting private prison contractors.
Perhaps even more sinister, especially considering Sessions’ history with voting rights(source), is the fact that enforcement of marijuana laws is a path to voter suppression. While felony possession amounts vary by state, repeat offenders for possession can be charged with a felony under federal law, resulting in disenfranchisement.
If you want to do a little more reading on your own, I suggest looking at what states have legalized marijuana and which candidate they voted for in the last election.