Marijuana LeglizationUncategorized

Recreational Cannabis in the Trump Era

recreational cannabis

If the Justice Department wanted to send a message that the federal prohibition of recreational cannabis is going to be enforced, raids are an option, but all the agency has to do is write letters, said Jonathan Caulkins, professor of operations research and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and former co-director of RAND’s Drug Policy Research Center.

Putting ink to paper and telling operators in recreational cannabis that they have to shut down within 30 days or face criminal prosecution and asset seizure, could be viewed as a credible enough threat that the government could effectively shut down the industry without many arrests and little to no incarceration, he said.

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“It’s very hard to shut down a black market,” Caulkins said. “It’s easy to shut down a legal company with a fixed address and fixed assets.”

“Can they arrest every person using recreational cannabis?”  Of course not,” Kamin said. “Can they make life very unpleasant for a few high-profile actors? Would it have a chilling effect? Yes.”

Given the industry’s rapid development in just a few years and legalization’s increasing popularity among the public as a whole, attacking the recreational cannabis industry “would seem like an odd fight to pick at this particular political moment,” Kamin said.

In making direct enforcement actions, the federal government could be wading into uncharted territory, he said, noting that the the Justice Department likely would have to do so without the full cooperation of state and local law enforcement.

If those prosecutions occur and come to trial, the chances of success may be lower, Bolitho said. They would go before a jury pool in locales where public opinion weighed heavily in favor of legalization, he said.

And then there’s the matter of immediately finding willing U.S. attorneys to initiate those prosecutions, said Robert Mikos, a Vanderbilt Law School professor who specializes in the topics of federalism and drug law.

The Trump administration has not yet replaced the U.S. attorneys from the 94 different districts across the nation, he said.

There would be a high practical cost to enforcement, Mikos said, adding that the actions would consume a lot of resources from an agency without a wealth of them. And there’s the question of delineating between medical marijuana and recreational and where that would leave a state such as Colorado, where those operations are often intertwined, he said.

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