Well, the election went great for us, didn’t it? We picked up four new legalization states, with California not only becoming the world’s largest economy with legal weed, but breaking Oregon’s previous record of 56.11% support with a 56.20% victory.
We picked up three new medical-marijuana states, with Florida and Arkansas opening up the South and North Dakota being the first in the Great Plains. Montana also re-affirmed support for medical marijuana dispensaries and easier access for patients.
We even got four out of five cities voting in Ohio to de-penalize the possession of up 200 grams (7 ounces!) of marijuana—it’s still a minor misdemeanor, but the punishment is a zero dollar fine and zero day in jail. We also got a social-use licensing measure passed in Denver that will allow any business to permit cannabis consumption onsite with neighborhood approval.
But we also got President-Elect Trump.
Now I’ve had a decent number of people telling me that having Trump as the leader of the free world with access to nuclear codes could be a good thing for marijuana. He’s a business guy, they tell me, so he’s all for a new big profitable economy. On the campaign trail, he said medical marijuana was fabulous and states should be allowed to pursue legalization. It’s all good, bro!
Yeah, except for the nightmare I keep having.
It begins with the appointment of Attorney General Rudy Giuliani—the patron saint of “stop and frisk” in New York City. Giuliani’s belief in the discredited “broken windows” theory of policing led him to have NYPD pursue as many marijuana violations as possible, leading New York at its worst to secure over 50,000 marijuana arrests a year.
It continues as I imagine the rest of Trump’s Administration filling up. Perhaps a DEA Administrator Chris Christie and a Director of Office of National Drug Control Policy (Drug Czar) Kevin Sabet. Then throw in some hard-line conservatives to head up FDIC and FinCEN to decide pot banking issues; IRS and Consumer Protection Bureau heads to mess with pot business taxation and complaints; EPA and Ag Dept leaders who will deal with cultivation issues; and various US Attorneys and Immigration and Homeland Security officials who’ll deal with interstate and international considerations.
Most terrifyingly, I imagine who Trump appoints to fill an empty Supreme Court seat (and perhaps Ginsburg’s, Kennedy’s, & Souter’s seats as well) that will decide challenges to legalization. Remember Kansas and Oklahoma suing Colorado, only to be rejected by the court? Don’t bet on that rejection happening in the next interstate lawsuit that comes up before a 7-2 Trump-packed SCOTUS.
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.
“States may be the laboratories of democracy,” says Attorney General Giuliani, flanked by DEA Head Christie and Drug Czar Sabet in my nightmare, “but we are going to ensure the experiment stays in the Petri dish. Colorado and California may have legalized marijuana, but Kansas and Arizona have not. The citizens of those states deserve their states’ right to keep dangerous drugs illegal.”
“Operation Petri Dish is our response to these states that have chosen to allow marijuana legalization,” says Administrator Christie in my nightmare. “We have teamed up with Homeland Security to create a new series of border checkpoints along Idaho’s, Nevada’s, and California’s eastern borders, Maine’s southern border, and surrounding Colorado and Massachusetts. Staffed by DEA personnel no longer needed for investigations and raids in the West, these checkpoints will act much like California’s fruit and vegetable checkpoints. DEA, along with marijuana-sniffing dogs purchased with Justice Assistance Grants from the eight states where they can no longer operate because of legalization, will ensure that the states that have legalized marijuana keep it confined to their borders.”
In the next few months, Drug Czar Sabet tours the country, hitting the states that have the initiative power, but haven’t yet legalized marijuana or allowed medical use. “It’s time to see the handwriting on the wall,” Drug Czar Sabet tells various governors and secretaries of state and legislative leaders. “Either you can pass legislation to temper prohibition to your liking or you can wait for the citizens to vote in a disastrous legalization or medical marijuana law you can’t control.” Dubbed Operation Ohio, Sabet gets the remaining initiative states to pass restrictive no-home-grow dispensary-controlled medical marijuana laws and to decriminalize personal possession with fines and mandatory rehab, to diminish popular support for any citizen initiative in the future.
That’s my Trump marijuana nightmare. And it’s only the fifth-scariest of my Trump nightmares.
But I could be wrong. I hope I am wrong. I am praying to my non-existent Supreme Deity that I am wrong.