Panel of District Attorneys Selected to Advise Trump on Marijuana

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    The National District Attorney’s Association has announced the formation of an advisory group who will make recommendations to the Trump administration on cannabis law and policy. While not everyone on the panel is pro-pot, we now know a couple of the District Attorneys are in favor of at least exploring the possibilities of regulation. Boulder, Colorado DA Stan Garnett was selected to the panel, making him the only active member from our nation’s first fully legalized state. While the rest of the panel has not been publicly named yet, Garnett said there are members from fellow recreational states like California and Oregon.

    “It’s a reflection of the NDAA’s interest in having a fairly balanced committee, which will be largely advising on what our policy position should be in communications with the Trump Justice Department,” Garnett explained to the Boulder Daily Camera.

    According to Garnett, the NDAA has traditionally taken a conservative stance on issues like marijuana, so he felt it was important to lend his viewpoint to the discussion.

    “I always end up on the more liberal position than anyone else, particularly on marijuana,” Garnett said. “I think one of the things that happens is that many of the people in states where there is no legalization have a complete misunderstanding of states like Colorado. If nothing else, I’m able to say, ‘Wait a minute, this is a huge business in Colorado, it is largely supported by the editorial boards, polls show it was being very popular, and by and large we have not seen an impact on crime rates.

    “For somebody from Missouri or South Carolina to tell Colorado how to handle an issue of its own choice like legalization of marijuana is not only bad policy, but it fails to respect the importance of local control and state rights.”

    According to Tom Raynes, Executive Director of the Colorado District Attorney’s Council, the NDAA policy group was formed about 10 days ago, and despite wide-ranging opinions on legalization, all 14 members do have collective goals that everyone can agree on. The group as a whole aim to tackle stoned driving, eliminate the remaining black market, and keep weed out of the hands of children.

    “There’s such a myriad of approaches depending on what stage of legalization you are in. To come up with some sort of nationwide discussion on what works and what doesn’t work makes a lot of sense,”
    said Raynes.

    “Those are things that every state can agree on, and they need to start getting to the difficult issues.”
    As far as who the NDAA group will be communicating with in Washington, they should know sometime this week. They will likely offer their policy recommendations to the United States Attorney General, our nation’s top prosecutor. Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, a controversial figure in the marijuana community, is likely to be confirmed as Attorney General. After heated confirmation hearings earlier this month, the Judiciary Committee is set to vote on the Sessions appointment this morning. Should Sessions receive an affirmative vote from the committee, the Senate would likely vote on the matter before the end of the week.

    “Assuming he gets confirmed, he would definitely be the recipient of whatever we come up with,” Garnett stated. “At the moment nobody really knows what approach the Trump justice department will take, so that will determine how long the group meets.”

    Sessions has been a vocal opponent of ending cannabis prohibition, even going as far as saying at one point that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.” For his part, President Trump has been on the record as saying he doesn’t want to end federal marijuana prohibition but would be open to allowing states to handle it on a case-by-case basis.

    “Legalization has been largely successful everywhere it has been tried, so it would be a highly unpopular move and difficult to accomplish successfully,” Garnett said. “But I don’t know what to expect on the Trump administration on this issue.”

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