United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions has stepped down “at the president’s request.” News of his resignation has caused much rejoicing among cannabis advocates and investors across the country.
The attorney general resigned after a year of enduring public criticism from President Donald Trump. These criticisms came as a result of Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the Mueller Investigation. The Mueller Investigation is a probe into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections and into the possibility that the Trump campaign had colluded with Kremlin.
Trump announced that Matthew Whitaker, Sessions’ chief of staff, will serve as acting attorney general. Whitaker will also assume oversight of the Mueller Investigation.
No more roadblock?
The now former head of the Department of Justice was considered to be a major political obstacle to cannabis legalization efforts.
Sessions made no effort to hide his strong opposition to cannabis, proclaiming in 2016 that “good people do not smoke marijuana.” He had argued in a Senate hearing that cannabis is a gateway drug and has even linked it to the growing opioid epidemic. This despite some studies suggesting the opposite.
At the start of this year, Sessions reversed the Cole Memorandum, which are Obama-era guidelines that prevented federal law enforcement from interfering with states that have legalized cannabis. Because cannabis is illegal at federal level, yet some states have already legalized the drug — either for medical purposes or for both medical and recreational use — it was the Cole Memorandum that made sure there is no confusion between federal and state law enforcement in legalized states.
By repealing the Cole Memorandum, Sessions gave federal authorities the go signal to prosecute cannabis cases even in states where the drug is already legal. The move would have rendered progressive state cannabis laws useless.
Of course, the crackdown on cannabis did not end there.
Take a look at this CannabizDaily ebook (http://cannabizdaily.co/blog/lets-talk-jeff-sessions/) to get a bigger picture of why Sessions had earned the ire of the cannabis community.
Cannabis stocks spiked
In response to Sessions’ leaving his office, stock prices for cannabis companies rose.
For instance, Nasdaq’s Alternative Harvest Marijuana ETF, which is a fund that bundles tradable cannabis industry, went up 5.6% in the hour after news of Sessions resignation broke, with a $36.97 peak share price. The fund was up over 7% at the close of trading that day.
Canadian cannabis company Tilray also got a boost of 30% in the day’s trading. Shares in both Canopy Growth and Aurora Cannabis also jumped!