Trump and Sessions Seem Focused on Cartels, Not Cannabis

Published on February 14, 2017 · Last updated July 28, 2020
Federal Police patrol on the perimeters of the Altiplano maximum security prison in Almoloya, west of Mexico City, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016, where Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, head of the Sinaloa drug cartel, is being held after his recapture on Friday. Guzman was sent back to the maximum-security prison from where he escaped last July 11 through an elaborate tunnel that was dug to shower stall. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have yet to directly address the issue of cannabis legalization and the state-federal schism, which has led to all kinds of rumors flying about.

One rumor, floated on a cannabis blog recently, held that Press Secretary Sean Spicer told a reporter named “Rebecka Brian” that the Trump administration is “unlikely” to go after legalized states.

MassRoots reporter Tom Angell looked into the quote and found nothing to it. Angell reached out directly to Spicer and received a succinct reply: “I have no clue where that came from.”

So what’s the real story? Where does Sessions stand on cannabis?

A recent interview on Capital Public Radio in Sacramento may provide some insight into the nebulous mindset of the Trump Administration.

Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones spoke to new attorney general Jeff Sessions last week while in Washington, DC, for a law enforcement convention. Jones then relayed that conversation to Bob Moffitt, a Sacramento reporter for Capital Public Radio. Jones said he made a point of bringing up immigration and cannabis policy with Sessions, who at the time was still awaiting confirmation by the full Senate.

“Regarding the prioritization of federal resources to combat marijuana, he didn’t see the federal government getting involved in marijuana use or low-level state, what are traditionally state and local crimes,” Sheriff Jones told the radio reporter. “But I don’t think he ruled out the possibility of the federal government getting involved in larger-scale operations.”

If this is, indeed, the case, it wouldn’t be a far cry from the policy of the Obama Administration. Obama generally maintained a laissez-faire approach to state-by-state legalization, but some legal state operations still suffered federal raids and indictments.

Sheriff Jones indicated that Sessions might be more inclined to go after drug cartels–which, it’s worth pointing out, are suffering due to the expansion of legalization in the United States.

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Lisa Rough
Lisa Rough
Lisa is a former associate editor at Leafly, where she specialized in legislative cannabis policy and industry topics.
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