It’s a very real possibility, reports the Associated Press:
Weed is winning in the polls, with a solid majority of Americans saying marijuana should be legal. But does that mean the federal government will let dozens of state pot experiments play out? Not by a long shot.
The government still has many means to slow or stop the marijuana train. And President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions to be the next attorney general has raised fears that the new administration could crack down on weed-tolerant states 20 years after California became the first to legalize medical marijuana.
“We need grown-ups in charge in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized. It ought not to be minimized, that it’s in fact a very real danger,” Sessions said during an April Senate hearing.
The Controlled Substances Act bans pot even for medical purposes.
The AP reports goes on to list the tools Sessions has at his disposal once confirmed as the nation’s next Attorney General, including lawsuits to overturn state laws on they grounds that the federal marijuana ban preempts them.
Even without litigation, he could order Drug Enforcement Administration raids to shut down dispensaries and recreational marijuana shops in states which had authorized them.
A third alternative also appears to us: Federal legalization coupled with a revision of a section of the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act declared unconstitutional in 1969.
The act imposed a tax on growers as well as a tax of $100 [$1,690 in today’s
dollars] on every ounce sold. The court ruled the tax unconstitutional because the simple act of registering to pay the tax was admission of a crime, because both growers and buyers would be admitting to other federal laws criminalizing cultivation with intent to sell, sales, and possession.
The combination of legalization plus an insanely high tax level, say $10,000 an ounce, and drastic criminal sentences and fines for failure to pay the tax would effectively result in an end to legal pot.
Given Sessions’ temperament and the mood of the GOP controlling both houses of the national legislature, we suspect that the feds will take some action in those famous smoke-filled rooms.
We can personally attest to the value of marijuana as a medicine. A legal prescription from our oncologist ended the nausea accompanying our cancer chemotherapy three years ago, and the demon weed also has proven extremely effective in alleviating flareups of the rheumatoid arthritis that’s afflicted us since we turned 30.