Sessions out as the AG is good for marijuana, but will Whitaker be better?
The thorn in the heel of the marijuana industry was removed last week when Jeff Sessions resigned as the U.S. Attorney General (AG). His departure was pushed by President Trump, who already had someone waiting in the wings. As soon as Sessions had left the building, Matthew Whitaker – the former chief of staff for Sessions – took the chair, at least temporarily. Everyone is now looking at Whitaker to help the marijuana industry flourish, where it only wilted under Sessions.
In the past, Whitaker has sent mixed signals regarding his stance on marijuana. As a candidate vying for a Senate seat in Iowa, he talked highly of the state’s CBD (cannabidiol) medical marijuana law and indicated that he knew individuals who had benefited from using cannabis. However, he also criticized the Department of Justice, when former President Obama was still in power, for not going after federal law violators in those states that had passed laws legalizing marijuana.
Given that Trump has reiterated several times that he would support the expansion of marijuana laws on the national level, there is a good chance that he would be able to convince Whitaker to decide his way if he becomes the AG – it could even be a condition of the appointment.
Another potential candidate for the AG spot would not be as welcome. Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is rumored to be in the running. Christie is an outspoken critic of marijuana reform and is known to stick by his beliefs. If Whitaker were to be denied the position for any reason, it’s very possible that Christie would be next in line.
Whitaker is only the interim AG; however, the fact that he was appointed by Trump and the Republicans still control the Senate, means that the chances are good that he will be nominated and confirmed by the legislative body.