Sheriff Keith Royal and a majority of the Nevada County Board of Supervisors have been trying to ignore the 800-pound gorilla in the corner of the room sparking a fattie, hoping the twin issues of medical and recreational pot would just go away.
After their attempt to severely restrict the cultivation of medical pot went down in flames last June, the supes passed a temporary medical marijuana ordinance but delayed work on a permanent one until after the Nov. 8 election, when the question of recreational pot was on the ballot.
To nobody’s surprise, Proposition 64 passed. But to practically everybody’s surprise, Donald Trump was elected president and has nominated a hard-line foe of pot to be our next attorney general, Jeff Sessions.
Sessions said in April that “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” and has criticized the Obama Administration for suspending enforcement of the federal prohibition on pot.
“You can’t have the president of the United States talking about marijuana like it’s no different than taking a drink…It is false that marijuana use doesn’t lead people to more drug use. It is already causing a disturbance in the states that have made it legal. I think we need to be careful about this.”
For those of you who may have forgotten, federal law bans pot and lists it as a Schedule 1 drug, similar to LSD and heroin, with no medical value. Obama’s Justice Department declined to enforce the law and allowed states to proceed with legalization, as long as they kept it away from minors.
About 60 percent of the population now lives in states that have legalized medical or recreational pot, or both–the same percentage of people who back legalization, according to a recent Gallup Poll. Eight states, including California, permit recreational use of pot while 28 permit its use for medical purposes.
Trump said during the campaign he would leave the pot issue up to the states, and it’s not known how much political capital he would be willing to spend if he reversed his stand. Sessions also believes in states rights, but it’s the Southern kind–stopping those Yankee civil rights attorneys from telling the states how to treat all of their citizens.
Pot opponents are hopeful. “Well, let’s just say if I had marijuana stocks right now, I’d be shorting them,” said Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana. “This is a man who we know is staunchly anti-legalization. There’s no way around that. Things are about to get interesting.”
Assuming Sessions is confirmed, the initial thrust of the Trump Justice Department is likely to be on the Muslim and illegal immigration issues. Sessions supports a crackdown on undocumented immigrants, and Trump’s new national security adviser says we should fear Muslims. If you’re a Muslim in America, be afraid.
Unless the Trump Administration makes a definitive statement on the pot issue, the uncertainly will give the supervisors an excuse to delay action on permitting expanded use of pot. There will still be at least three pot foes on the board when Heidi Hall replaces Nate Beason in January, and you can be sure the majority won’t be in the mood to blaze any new trails.
Also, don’t be surprised if the steamroller to establish a dispensary in Nevada City stalls, and Grass Valley just keeps talking the issue to death. Local officials are being dragged along on the pot issue, and most of them are looking for an excuse to keep the weed illegal.
MY TAX DOLLARS: The assistant county manager and the director of health and human services apparently had nothing better to do Friday than reply to a show-boating email from Jeff “Podunk” Pelline about our local homeless problem. Since they have time on their hands, they could do something productive and help the Elections Office count all those votes that are still sitting around.