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COLUMN: Jeff Sessions misjudges marijuana



Attorney General Jeff Sessions has decided to turn a cold shoulder to the millions of Americans who want relaxed marijuana laws in favor of increased law enforcement and 
regulation.

He’s spoken on record against legalization, spread misinformation about marijuana and incited fear into a budding industry. He must be stopped.

First off, Sessions is acting in direct opposition from the interests of most Americans. 2016 Gallup poll shows that support for legalization of marijuana in the United States has reached 60 percent.

This is the highest level of support legalization has received since Gallup began tracking the statistic 47 years ago.

The majority of U.S. citizens want marijuana to be legal, but Sessions would rather spout untruths in an attempt to pander to his base.

In a Senate hearing last April, Sessions accused marijuana of being a gateway drug. When asked about legalization, he said “you’ll see cocaine and heroin increase more than it would have” if marijuana remains an illicit drug.

The tired argument of the gateway drug has obviously run its course. Looking back to 1999, I found a report commissioned by Congress and conducted by the National Academy of Sciences finding “no conclusive evidence” that using marijuana leads to other drug use.

Marijuana is not merely benign — it proves extremely beneficial when it’s legalized and taxed. The U.S. will miss out on a large revenue stream if it ignores the economics of regulated marijuana.

Currently 28 states boast some form of legal marijuana, be it recreational or medical.

These states are seeing positive economic impacts of legalization. Colorado alone reported $1.1 billion in legal marijuana sales in 2016, up more than 10 percent from 2015.

Considering that Colorado’s state government is taxing retail marijuana at a base rate of 10 percent before any sales or local taxes, the government is also benefiting off legalization.

A firm called ArcView Market Research projects that the national, legal cannabis market could reach almost $22 billion in annual sales by 2020.

This means more jobs, more tax revenue and more happiness for Americans everywhere 
marijuana is legal.

Forbes compares this $22 billion revenue projection to the National Football League, which is aiming to reach annual revenues of $27 billion by 2027. Marijuana could be bigger than football.

Despite debunked myths about marijuana, current statistics of its economic value and future projections of its profitability, Sessions wants to restrict the market.

This is a man who referred to marijuana as “only slightly less awful” than heroin while speaking before law enforcement earlier this month.

It troubles me that this is the message Sessions wants to project to our law enforcement officers. Petty drug laws are already out of control, and this mindset will only make the problem worse for Americans.

Sessions probably goes home after a long day at work and watches reruns of Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” videos from the 1980s. He’s simply a man from a time passed.

He harbors ridiculous notions about marijuana, and he is blind to the economic benefits it offers. Supporting his viewpoint will only take us backward.

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