Yesterday, Melissa McCarthy’s greatest comedy role, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, stepped up to the podium and delivered the remarks I’ve been predicting for nine months now.

“There is a big difference between [medical] and recreational marijuana,” said Spicer. “There is still a federal law that we need to abide by… when it comes to recreational marijuana.”

Spicer indicated that the president “understands the pain and suffering that many people go through” and is sympathetic to medical marijuana.” However, “That’s very different than the recreational use, which is something the Department of Justice I think will be further looking into.”

Spicer did recognize the power of the Rohrabacher Amendment passed by Congress that prevents the Justice Department from prosecuting states over medical marijuana, a sliver of hope for reformers that if Congress can pass HR975, the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2017, that would tie Sessions’ hands regarding recreational marijuana, too.

All it needs is for Oregon’s lone Republican representative, Greg Walden, to bring it up for a hearing in the Energy & Commerce Committee he chairs, where the bill has been referred. The same Walden supported the keep-hands-off-medical-marijuana Rohrabacher Amendment of 2015, but voted against the McClintock Amendment of 2015 that would have kept-hands-off-recreational-marijuana-too.

If by some miracle, Walden calls a vote on HR975 and the GOP majority passes it out of committee, it then heads to the Judiciary Committee, chaired by Virginia’s Rep. Bob Goodlatte. The same Goodlatte who believes this:

“Marijuana is a dangerous substance that has many more drawbacks then benefits that some people derive from… They have never found any use for marijuana that was better than already approved for prescription drugs… The evidence regarding the effect that it has, particularly on young people is concerning. It is not my purpose to change the law with regard to marijuana. I have not signed off on the idea that the best way to deal with these issues would be to change the categorization of marijuana.”

So, just get HR975 through two hostile committee chairmen, onto the floor of the House to be voted on by a GOP-majority Congress, then over to the Senate for another couple of hostile committees and then a floor vote by a GOP-majority Senate, then to the desk of President “the crime, the gangs and the drugs, this American carnage stops right here and stops right now” Trump to sign into law—and then, recreational marijuana laws are safe from Attorney General Jeff “good people don’t smoke marijuana” Sessions.

Forgive me if I’m not holding my breath. In the meantime, what was it Sean Spicer was saying again?

“The Department of Justice is the lead on that. It is something that you should follow up with them, but I believe that they are going to continue to enforce the laws on the books with respect to recreational marijuana.”

I hate to say I told you so, but…

I told you so: “So, yeah, you could cast a feel-good vote for Johnson or Stein because they agree with you on legalizing marijuana, but to what end? They’ll have zero power over legalization policy, and you’ll be doing nothing to stop the candidate who would dismantle legalization, Donald Trump.”

I told you so: “While Donald Trump has recently said he’s fine with state-level legalization and medical marijuana, he’s also recently said, ‘In this race for the White House, I am the law-and-order candidate.’”

I told you so: “The Republican nominee is probably the worst of the four candidates on this issue.”

I told you so: “But Trump is for states’ rights, right? Sure he is—at least as much as you can say Donald Trump has a political philosophy. However, I can imagine a whole bunch of federal interference that would still allow states their right to legalize weed.”

I told you so: “With the election of Donald Trump as president, it seems clearer each day that the cannabis industry and the marijuana movement may be facing down some tough times ahead.”

I told you so: “I’ll be thrilled to be wrong if the status quo continues, the marijuana industry grows and nobody gets raided or jailed. But I have always believed this isn’t a War on Drugs, this is a war on culture, and the other side of that culture war is in complete control.”

I told you so: “I think the man who said, ‘I believe the Department of Justice needs to be clear… I think it’s really serious’ back in April is more believable than the same man polishing his résumé for a job promotion. The confirmation of Jeff Sessions as attorney general will be a nightmare for the marijuana industry.”

Previously in Radical Rant: My Testimony on Protecting Cannabis Users’ Employment Rights
Click here for all of Russ Belville’s columns

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