Two Sessions out, and cannabis takes the big win at the polls.
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Even if you do live under a rock, you likely know that the US held mid-term elections this week, and while the results are mixed in many ways, it was a nearly unanimous vote for cannabis legalization and decriminalization.
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A number of states had cannabis and marijuana related issues directly on the ballot in the form of voter initiatives, which has been the most popular (the only really, until recently) way of getting legalized cannabis into the various states which support (it’s either 31 or 33 at the moment, depending on how you count it) some form of medical and/or recreational, adult use, cannabis distribution and consumption. We’ll detail the various results after we talk about the rest of the big news from this week.
Sessions and Sessions… adios amigos, don’t let the door hit ya…
Almost everyone in the cannabis industry knows just who Jefferson Beauregard Sessions is, and the role he
plays, err, make that played – in the federal government. The appointed and confirmed Attorney General of the United States, whipping boy to the current administration, and just overall gremlin looking fella.
But what about the ‘other’ Sessions? The one, interestingly enough, who has had more of an impact on federal marijuana laws and cannabis prohibition in the past few years than the AG? That would be Pete Sessions – Republican from Texas (I know, where else?) – who has been the chair of the House Rules Committee since 2012, and has managed to keep many prospective cannabis legalization bills from getting a hearing or a vote by the full House; his refusal to allow the bills out of committee have been the ‘silent killer’ for years now.
So what’s the story with the Smothers Brothers? Wait, are the Sessions even related?
We thought you’d never ask! Nope, the two Sessions are not related, they are not even from the same state, one was a Senator before he took the Attorney General job and the other is from the House of Representatives.
Jeff Sessions, the AG, was forced to resign by the administration (ok, the orange one) on Wednesday after the election. Sadly we had Thursday in the pool, and were not quite as ‘winning’ as we thought when we picked that day. His temporary replacement, Whitaker, well, who knows. It’s going to be interesting to see how long he remains as the temporary replacement, since there could be a few outgoing Senators with an axe to grind that could potentially aid the Dems in keeping a replacement from being confirmed prior to January.
And Pete? Pete Sessions? Well, he got beat at the polls. Jim McGovern is the ranking Democrat on the committee, and he’s from Massachusetts, a state that has been forward thinking in legalization for quite some time… even if they can’t seem to actually get a working process for legal sales in place.
Two Republican cannabis supporters get the boot.
Dana Rorhrabacher, from Orange County, CA, and Dean Heller, from Nevada, are also going to be heading home for the holidays and not coming back for the next sessions of Congress. Given all the Rorhrabacher has done for the industry, especially working across the aisle to cobble together bipartisan support for cannabis legalization at the federal level, it’s going to be bittersweet to see him go.
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Bitter because he has been a friend to the industry for a long time now, and he’s been instrumental in getting us to where we are. Sweet because he’s turned into a raving lunatic, running around having meetings with Russia, deliberately sabotaging a satellite project worth billions to southern California, and just generally becoming a bit on the too unstable to count on for much else side of things. So much so that we hear Huntington Beach is having a city wide dance party in the streets and Harley Rouda is buying all the beer that even Brett Kavanagh could drink for it. Ok, maybe we’re joking. Maybe.
Heller’s out in Nevada, also a friend to the industry. Jacky Rosen snagged his seat; in the end having Trump on his side didn’t do any more or any less for him than having Trump threatening to campaign against him, he still lost.
Perhaps David Joyce, the House member from Ohio, will take up the Republican banner for cannabis legalization. He seems, at least at the moment, to be an alright sort.
Pardon me, guvnah…
Any number of states can lay claim to some sort of cannabis related support by nearly all candidates who were trying to claim gubernatorial seats across the country.
Gavin Newsom, winner in CA (as expected), has been a long time pro-cannabis candidate, and we expect he will remain that way on his bid for the even bigger seat in DC before he’s finished.
Jared Polis is moving from Congress to the governorship of Colorado. Great guy, friend of the industry, first openly gay man to get a governor seat in any state.
JB Pritzker takes the top job in Illinois. While a relative youngster for the office at 53 years old, he’s got a great background, plenty of his own money and is quite liberal in his ideals.
Andrew Gillum did not win in Florida, but it was close. We’re just going to keep our comments to ourselves about this whole circus; while I’m usually inclined to less filters than most, it’s probably for the best.
Stacey Abrams – as of this morning, unless she can find a way to get a recount that pulls Brian Kemp back down from the 50% plus tally, she’s sadly not going to win. We’re going to keep quiet about this one as well.
Blow by blow recounting of action on election day –
Michigan had recreational, adult use on their ballot, and the voters decided it was time to pass it.
Utah – how crazy does this sound? – passed medical use on the ballot, and in the “fact is stranger than truth” category, the LDS church had cut a deal with the legislature to take a medical measure to a vote in the state legislature if the ballot initiative didn’t make it.
Missouri – goodness knows we love our ‘special’ folks, and the special state of Missouri had not one, not two, but THREE separate medical use measures on the ballot. Without going into detail, it seems that the common sense version won the day, however when we look at some reasonable Western states and how they’ve fared recently with implementing “reasonable” ballot initiatives, we’ll reserve judgement.
Wisconsin – while the state didn’t have a binding initiative on the books, it had a series of votes on ‘advisory questions’ across the state. The responses were unanimous, and it appears that the people in the cheese state would like to have some weed to go with their cheddar.
North Dakota – while the state already has medical use cannabis, and that law is only two years old, there was already an initiative for full adult use legalization – which did not pass. So the medical use remains, and the rest will be revisited again soon, I’m sure.
Six cities in Ohio had local propositions to decriminalize cannabis possession in small amounts; five of those municipalities passed laws to make it so.