Pro-pot governors say Attorney General Jeff Sessions ain’t gonna stopping them from advancing their plans for medical and recreational marijuana.
State Governors from all parts of the country met in our nation’s capitol over the weekend for their annual meeting with administration officials and the president. And, many governors tried to use the opportunity to meet with our least favorite, weed hating AG, Jeff Sessions.
It appears our least favorite, weed hating AG didn’t want to meet with the governors who had marijuana on their agenda. Some Democratic governors say Sessions snubbed them when they tried meeting with him.
“I tried, but I couldn’t get called on,” Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) told Rolling Stone. “He only took about six questions. There were probably 40 governors in the room.”
Gov. Phil Murphy (D-NJ) chimed in and told Rolling Stone, “It has not impacted us and we believe it will not, although that doesn’t mean we’re not paying attention.” Murphy, who was elected last year, campaigned aggressively on marijuana legalization.
New Jersey is currently a state with the largest racial disparity in its prison population of any state in the nation, and many of those convicts are serving terms for nonviolent drug offenses. For Murphy, this is a criminal justice issue. While he’s received some pushback from his legislature on his plan to legalize the herb, he’s moving ahead on expanding medicinal marijuana because currently there are only five dispensaries in a state with nine million people.
“We’re proceeding apace, again, beginning to make sure we get the medical piece right because it’s life or death,” Murphy says. “And then we will deliberately and steadily get to the recreational side.”
Ralph Northam (D-VA) another newly elected governor, also campaigned on marijuana. Northam, a physician is an advocate for the medicinal value of the herb and wants the Feds to back off and reclassify it’s Schedule 1 listing. He would like to see more research and knows the reclassification needs to occur in order to fund the necessary research.
He told Rolling Stone, “I think that it would be great if at the federal level they could change the schedule of marijuana so that we can get more data on it – do more research. I remind people all the time that probably over 100 medicines that we use routinely in health care come from plants, so let’s be a little bit more open minded and look at potential uses for medicinal marijuana.”
Rhode Island, and Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo are fighting for more access and additional dispensaries. Currently, Rhode Island, which legalized medical use in 2006, only has three marijuana dispensaries in the entire state. Raimondo would like to double or triple that number with current legislation. But she says it’s all more complicated because of opposition from Sessions and because the federal prohibition on weed has severely limited the amount of research on the plant.
“That is the challenge,” Raimondo told Rolling Stone. “Frankly that is the challenge for states thinking about legalizing recreational marijuana.”
Ultra conservative Oklahoma Governor says his state is considering its options when it comes to legalizing recreational marijuana. “It’s something that we’re weighing with our attorney general to see what the U.S. attorney general’s doing too,” Gov. Mary Fallin (R-OK) told Rolling Stone. “But we do think that if it’s implemented there are some guidelines, as far as licensing and how it is regulated in the state of Oklahoma, that will have to be addressed by our legislature.”
Hawaii just authorized medicinal marijuana, but isn’t quite comfortable with Sessions breathing down their next, “We obviously are concerned about that, and what action he’ll be taking,” Gov. David Ige (D-HA) told Rolling Stone.
Gov. Gary Herbert (R-UT) says Holder is the one who deserves the blame for not working with Congress on a federal resolution.
“They turned a blind eye to it. They just let states do it in open violation of the federal law. That’s not how we do things in this country. I think that’s bad process. It’s bad form and sends a bad message,” Herbert told Rolling Stone.
This fall, Utah voters will have a voice on whether they want to expand the states extremely limited medical marijuana industry. In the meantime Herbert is also calling on lawmakers on Capitol Hill to reschedule marijuana now so his voters can have access to better information on its potential health benefits and/or harms. He thinks it should be treated more like the prescriptions in your cabinet than the beers in your fridge.
“It ought to be a controlled substance just like anything else. It ought to be approved by the FDA. It ought to be in fact prescribed by a doctor and administered by a pharmacist,” Herbert continues. “We probably ought not to have self-medication. The physiology of different people would require probably different quantities of the medicine, and I just think that’s prudent.”
Back in 2011, Gov. Dan Malloy (D-CT) moved to decriminalize marijuana and set up a medicinal marijuana regime. Now he is a bit on the fence, but sees the inevitable legalization on the horizon.
“As Canada moves in that direction, as Massachusetts and Vermont, it’s going to be a neighborhood thing, and I understand that,” Malloy told Rolling Stone. While he remains lukewarm on recreational marijuana, he didn’t have an issue giving our least favorite, weed hating AG a one, two punch with a blunt letter.
“I told him to stop messing around with marijuana, because it really isn’t important,” Malloy said. “I have not taken the opportunity to endorse marijuana, but that’s very different than spending resources trying to combat marijuana use. And, quite frankly, if you’re going to be serious about opioids, you can’t be screwing around with marijuana.”
Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) says during this visit he was rebuffed when he asked for a one on one meeting with Sessions to discuss his state’s recreational marijuana marketplace. Nevertheless, Inslee said his offer for Sessions to come out west and tour his state’s pot businesses still stands.
Inslee told Rolling Stone, “The fears that he might have had 30 years ago have not been realized, and we wish he would just open his eyes to the reality of the situation. If he did, I think he would no longer try to fight an old battle that the community and the nation is moving very rapidly forward on.”
Post by: @StonedandStuff
Stoned and Stuff is a writer, project manager and mother of 2 boys living in California. She his a frequent contributor to SSL.
*Sessions Photo: Al Drago/The New York Times