Will he or won’t he?
It’s the question anyone with any stake in the cannabis industry — from the everyday pot smoker to long-time advocates and entrepreneurs — has asked since Jeff Sessions was confirmed as attorney general:
Will he go after legal marijuana?
It doesn’t help that Sessions’ public comments about cannabis are all over the place. One day he says smoking pot is a “violation of federal law … whether a state legalizes it or not.” The next, he admits that the Obama-era Cole Memorandum, which created hand’s-off guidelines for federal prosecutors working in cannabis-friendly states, is “valid” (and he even conceded that the DOJ doesn’t have the resources to go after the industry, anyway).
Then, Sessions claims medical marijuana use is “hyped,” and that communities with cannabis are begging the Department of Justice to get “thugs” off the street.
Fortunately, the California Legislature is already taking pre-emptive action in case Sessions acts. According to the Los Angeles Times, six Democratic legislators, including Oakland Assemblyman Rob Bonta, recently introduced a bill that would block local and state police from assisting the feds if and when they start raiding legal pot businesses.
In the meantime, life goes on for the East Bay’s cannabis community.
In March, the Oakland City Council voted to set aside 50 percent of the permits for medical and recreational marijuana businesses specifically for people affected by the War on Drugs — i.e., for People of Color. Councilmember Noel Gallo also introduced a residency requirement that would have limited non-equity permits to people who had lived in Oakland for at least three years. After hours of contentious debate at the March 21 meeting, councilmembers voted to remove the requirement.
If the city also follows through with opening a public bank, it would give local marijuana businesses a legitimate place to put their money for the first time, establishing Oakland as one of legal weed’s biggest strongholds. It would be great timing, since according to Eaze, a cannabis delivery service, the East Bay is its fastest growing market.
Even former Mayor Jean Quan is getting into the game, spearheading a new branch of the Apothecarium dispensary with her husband Dr. Floyd Huen — albeit in San Francisco.