Eight states have legalized recreational marijuana use, but 600,000 Americans are arrested every year and Attorney General Jeff Sessions may step up enforcement of federal anti-pot laws.
Today, April 20, is an important day symbolically for marijuana. With 600,000 Americans facing pot charges every year, this year’s landscape is very much a mixed bag for backers of marijuana legalization, reports McClatchy Newspapers. The number 420 is code for smoking marijuana, dating to 1971, when five friends at California’s San Rafael High School began meeting each day at 4:20 p.m. to get high. Marijuana backers had unprecedented success at the polls in 2016, with voters in eight of nine states supporting initiatives to expand access to the drug. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week proposed to legalize pot for recreational use by 2018, seeking to join California, Washington and six other states that have already done so.
The domestic U.S. industry remains under a cloud amid worries that President Trump’s administration may move to shut down the state operations by enforcing the federal ban against the drug. The legal limbo is expected to last at least until July 27, the deadline set by Attorney General Jeff Sessions for a Justice Department task force to review marijuana policies. Sessions, a longtime marijuana foe, called the plan part of a larger effort to reduce crime. Some legalization backers want Congress to vote to end marijuana prohibition before the Trump team takes action, but those prospects are extremely slim. To increase pressure on lawmakers, legalization backers made plans for a pot giveaway near the U.S. Capitol beginning at noon today.