If only Nixon could go to China, as the saying goes, then maybe only Republicans can legalize weed.
Marijuana has now been legalized for medical use in many states — only Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota still prohibit use in any form. Nine states allow recreational marijuana use, and 13 others have decriminalized recreational use to some extent. Meanwhile, public support for legalizing the drug continues to grow, and is now firmly in majority territory.
Unsurprisingly, weed has become big business — sales in Colorado alone now top $1 billion a year. A study by data analytics firm New Frontier Data recently estimated that if marijuana legalization went national, it could generate more than $10 billion of tax revenue a year.
There’s just one problem: Cannabis is still illegal under federal law. During the administration of President Barack Obama, an uneasy détente existed, where the federal government agreed not to prosecute marijuana production, sale and use in states where it was legal. That effectively left things up to the states, but left open the possibility that the federal government might reverse itself and crack down. This year, the crackdown came. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he was rescinding the Obama-era policy of tolerance, and that marijuana users and growers in every state in the union now had to fear arrest and prosecution by the feds.
But Sessions may find himself increasingly isolated, even within his own party. It’s not just that public opinion has shifted. Unlike in past federal crackdowns, cannabis is now an incumbent industry that fills state coffers and can lobby legislators. Colorado U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican, had threatened to block Justice Department nominees unless Sessions backed off. President Donald Trump