By Daniela Wainfor ’18

On Dec. 4, the Trump administration put into action a decision that could pose a threat to the multi-billion dollar marijuana industry. When Obama held office, the administration placed a law that allowed the individual states to create their own laws about marijuana despite federal law stating that all uses of cannabis are illegal. Recently, Attorney General Jeff Sessions repealed this law by giving prosecutors more power to enforce this federal law against the states that have legalized its use. Currently, 30 states and the District of Columbia have laws that allow the legalization of marijuana in some form whether it be medical or recreational. Because this is a situation in which federal and state laws conflict, it brings up issues of freedom and liberty within the individual states and causes some confusion about where it is legal to buy sell or possess marijuana.  

If one is  buying or selling marijuana say, in California where even the recreational use is legal, you are still committing a federal crime. This federal law prohibiting the sale and distribution of marijuana was created in the 1930s and would still be upheld in a court of law today.

The Obama administration gave states individual power to make their own laws about marijuana despite this federal law.  Under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning the federal government believes it has no medical value and a high potential to be abused.

John Doe* a student at UAHS condemns the movement.

“Republican lawmakers and candidates love to talk about stuff like states rights, and Trump in particular talks about running the country like a business, yet this legislation takes away rights of the states and removes the possibilities of thousands of jobs to be created and billions of tax dollars to be generated,” Doe said.

The substance is treated under the same category as cocaine or heroin. Although it may be legal in a certain state, someone distributing or buying marijuana can still face serious legal issues and large fines under the CSA, and defense will not hold up in a court of law, due to the federal state of the drug’s legality.

Despite the federal law that states marijuana has no medical value, some physicians and doctors are said to believe the substance actually does have medical abilities and can help in a variety of illnesses such as cancer, epilepsy, asthma, and a number of other conditions. 23 out of the 30 states where some form of marijuana is legal have legalized medical marijuana. For the medicinal use, a recommendation from a doctor is required, whereas for recreational use you don’t need a recommendation although, you must be 21 years of age to purchase recreationally from a dispensary.

District five representative Matthew Cull said Franklin County  will be allowed five dispensaries, Columbus will host all five, seeing as surrounding cities have vocalized they will not hold any of the dispensaries.

Clintonville is home one of the five dispensaries that Franklin County will eventually house, located on the east side of North High St.

It’s clear that the marijuana industry is brining in a large amount of revenue for the United States, being that the sales top $1 million each year. The industry gives people all sorts of jobs from working in the dispensaries, to growers, to marijuana tour guides. Opinions about whether or how this policy change will affect the industry are scattered all over the board.

The anonymous source speculates that this legislation will not affect the marijuana industry negatively long-term.

“I don’t really think this will have a large impact on the small business, I feel like the ball has already started rolling and putting a stop to it now would require so much time, money and other resources,” Doe said.

In an interview with The New York Times, Kevin Sabet, director of the drug policy institute at the University of Florida and co-founder of “Smart Approaches to Marijuana,” said he doesn’t think small businesses will be affected in the long run.

“I do expect to see the larger investors and businesses targeted,” said Mr. Sabet.

Ramsey Hamide, a co-owner of Main Street Marijuana, one of Washington State’s largest mainstream cannabis retailers, confirms that he thinks the move could have a significant impact on  financial implications.

“I’m not sure whether local mom-and-pop marijuana shops will be affected.”

*denotes a source that requests anonymity