Over the past few days, most of the nation’s governors descended on Washington for their annual meeting with administration officials and the president. As reported in Rolling Stone, one thing that has impacted all of them is the recent change on the stance towards cannabis and the move by Sessions to rescind the Cole memo.
Among the governors was Phil Murphy, an advocate for the legalization of cannabis for adult-use. Murphy made a symbolic and important gesture in NJ when he immediately issued an executive order expanding the medical marijuana program and ordering an immediate study into the program and recommendations for its improvement.
Murphy was on record in D.C. saying, “[The Cole rescission] has not impacted us and we believe it will not, although that doesn’t mean we’re not paying attention… We’re proceeding apace, again, beginning to make sure we get the medical piece right because it’s life or death. And then we will deliberately and steadily get to the recreational side.”
Many of the governors complained that Sessions only made one appearance with the them, on a press-briefing on the opioid epidemic, and were denied private meetings to discuss his stance on cannabis.
Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee said, “It’s a shame that [Sessions] has a closed mind, and he’s much more attentive to his old ideology than to the new facts. The fears that he might have had 30 years ago have not been realized, and we wish he would just open his eyes to the reality of the situation. If he did, I think he would no longer try to fight an old battle that the community and the nation is moving very rapidly forward on.”
Another Governor to weigh in critically was Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, “As Canada moves in that direction, as Massachusetts and Vermont, it’s going to be a neighborhood thing, and I understand that… I told [Sessions] to stop messing around with marijuana, because it really isn’t important. I have not taken the opportunity to endorse marijuana, but that’s very different than spending resources trying to combat marijuana use. And, quite frankly, if you’re going to be serious about opioids, you can’t be screwing around with marijuana.”
New Jersey has been seeing its fair share of “Reefer Madness” coming from towns and counties. Even in legal states such as California, not all towns and counties were quick to get on board. In fact, only 13 of California’s 58 counties have ordinances in place to allow for the sale of cannabis. Additionally, Vermont legalized cannabis, but has not indicated its plans for the sale or distribution of cannabis in the state.
Many of the towns in New Jersey that have passed or are considering ordinances are being met with resistance from advocates around the state.