Weed is winning in the polls, with a solid majority of Americans saying marijuana should be legal. But does that mean the federal government will let dozens of state pot experiments play out? Not by a long shot.
The government still has many means to slow or stop the marijuana train. And President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions to be the next attorney general has raised fears that the new administration could crack down on weed-tolerant states 20 years after California became the first to legalize medical marijuana.
“We need grown-ups in charge in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized. It ought not to be minimized, that it’s in fact a very real danger,” Sessions said during an April Senate hearing.
The Controlled Substances Act bans pot even for medical purposes. A closer look at some of the government’s options for enforcing it:
TAKE ‘EM TO COURT: The government rarely invokes its authority to sue states, but it’s the quickest path to compliance. The Justice Department could file lawsuits on the grounds that state laws regulating pot are unconstitutional because they are pre-empted by federal law.
Something similar happened in 2010, when the Justice Department successfully sued Arizona to block an immigration law that conflicted with federal immigration law.