On average, the U.S. florist industry generates an estimated $7 billion in annual revenue. However, another botanical industry may soon over take that figure. Both medical and recreational marijuana have been a hot topic particularly within the past couple of years, and their respective movements seem to be gaining influence all over the country.
That is, unless Senator Jeff Sessions gets his way. As President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for attorney general, he has openly spoken out against marijuana use multiple times.
In one of his many public appearances, Sessions once defamed President Obama by saying, “You can’t have the President of the United States of America talking about marijuana … you are sending a message to young people that there is no danger in this process. 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,” Forbes reports.
Sessions is even known to have backed the Ku Klux Klan up until he learned they smoked cannabis.
Having an anti-marijuana attorney general would have major implications for both marijuana users and dispensaries nationwide. The attorney general oversees not only federal prosecutors who can crack down on possession laws, but the Drug Enforcement Administration as a whole.
As of right now, 26 states plus the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis use in some form. Three states will soon join them as a result of November’s election.
So why is marijuana so controversial?
More Americans are turning to marijuana as a more natural way of pain management compared to prescription painkillers. During the span of the past decade, the landscape of addiction across the nation has changed dramatically. In 2012, there were over 259 million prescriptions written for painkillers. That’s a 400% increase in prescription opiate use in 10 years.
However, medical cannabis has been shown to be extremely helpful with pain management and in some cases, eradicating terminal diseases.
Nevertheless, marijuana is still considered a controlled substance on the federal level. The Obama administration has refused to enforce this law in the states that have voted for legal usage.
Sessions hopes to change that, even though President-elect Trump feels differently. Trump has said in the past that he supports medical marijuana, and believes it is in the state’s rights to vote as they please.
But if Trump does appoint Sessions as attorney general, and he follows through on his promises to forbid marijuana legalization, it could put the presidential administration at odds with the public opinion. This action be detrimental to the legalization process as a whole.
Ever since the first Gallup poll on legalizing marijuana in 1969, there has been a steady increase in support for legalization. To put this in perspective, only 12% of the American population in 1969 was in favor of legalization. Now, the most recent 2016 Gallup poll reports a whopping 60% supporting full legalization.
If Sessions does indeed become attorney general, many believe he will roll back policy to be similar to that of Nancy Raegan’s “Just Say No To Drugs” movement of the 1980s. This makes many marijuana suppliers and dispensaries worried, but for now, they’re hoping to work with Sessions to protect the state’s rights to choose.
The National Cannabis Industry Association released a statement about the opportunity for a partnership with Sessions by saying, “We look forward to working with him to ensure that states’ rights and voter choices on cannabis are respected.”
While Americans across the nation may not be too happy with Sessions, he is quite popular in his home state of Alabama, where he’s been a state senator for two decades and has never won with less than 59% of the popular vote since 1994.