And a very happy Friday to all of you marijuana legalization advocates, and anyone else that might be listening! This is Todd Denkin with The National Marijuana News and boy do we have a lot to cover today after the wild midterm elections on Tuesday that are still not over. Votes are still being tallied in Georgia and Florida, and it looks like we are heading for some automatic recounts. One way or another, this week has represented a massive step forward for marijuana reform around the country and the president has also been on a tear since Tuesday that just might be helping us out too. To find out more details about how the midterm elections affected marijuana reform in the US, go to TNMNews.com and look for our article, “Marijuana Reform in the 2018 Midterm Elections.” It is November 9th, 2018. Let’s get to it.
Trump Fires Jeff Sessions
First, on Wednesday, the day after the election, President Trump ordered his Chief of Staff, John Kelly, to call Attorney General Jeff Sessions and tell him he was fired. John Kelly did not use those words, and in fact Jeff Sessions handed in his resignation, but all the same it was a forced resignation. Trump suggested a few months ago that he would fire Jeff Sessions once the elections were over. For the marijuana community, Jeff Sessions was one of the scarier officials in Washington D.C. who was also in a true place of power as the head of the Justice Department. Jeff Sessions strongly opposes marijuana legalization and rescinded the Cole Memo earlier this year, which resulted in many investors pulling their money from the cannabis industry. If you are unfamiliar with the Cole Memo, it had advised US attorneys around the country to not prosecute state legal cannabis businesses even though marijuana is a Schedule 1 substance. With the removal of Jeff Sessions as attorney general, one of the biggest threats to marijuana reform has been removed. We will have to see how long the Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker remains in his position after protests around the country popped up in support of the Mueller probe.
Marijuana Reform in the Midterm Elections May Not Be Over
Moving to the elections. Tuesday was an historic day for marijuana reform. Michigan became the 10th state in our country to legalize recreational marijuana and both Missouri and Utah passed laws for a broad medical marijuana program giving us 33 medical marijuana states. One of the more exciting aspects of this midterm election were all of the gubernatorial candidates that were in support of cannabis legalization in their respective states. Minnesota, Connecticut, Illinois and Maine all voted in pro cannabis governors. And we may not be done yet. Both Georgia and Florida look like they may be heading for a recount of their governor’s races. Republican Brian Kemp is the presumed winner of Georgia’s gubernatorial race, however his lead is only 63,000 votes and it continues to dwindle as votes continue to be counted. If his lead were to fall below 50% of his opponent, Democrat Stacey Kemp, the race would be automatically recounted. Stacey Kemp is a marijuana reform advocate and looks to solve the social injustice of marijuana prohibition in Georgia. In Florida, Democrat Andrew Gillum even conceded the race to the presumed winner, Republican Ron DeSantis. However, votes are still coming in and the lead for DeSantis has narrowed to less than .5% which automatically triggers a recount. Similarly, the Senate race between Republican Rick Scott and cannabis legalization advocate, Democrat Bill Nelson, has also narrowed to a point of forcing a recount. Nikki Fried, who is running for agricultural commissioner of Florida and is a marijuana reform advocate, was presumed to have lost to Matt Caldwell on Tuesday, but has now taken the lead in that race, also forcing a recount. It is always interesting in Florida when it comes to elections and this is no exception. If both the Georgia and Florida elections turn around, that will make these midterm election one of the most significant moments in marijuana reform history, if they are not already.
Not to Forget About Hemp
I must also mention hemp. There was some concern that the Hemp Farming Act, which would legalize hemp federally, would not make it into the final version of the 2018 Farm Bill. Those concerns have all but been squashed now that Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell out of Kentucky has been re elected. He is possibly hemp’s most influential champion and he now has a democratic House of Representatives that will undoubtedly support the legalization of hemp. Hemp is an amazing agricultural commodity that will likely be a much larger industry than marijuana. It has the ability of adding a great deal to the US economy.
Massachusetts Finally Gives Go Ahead to Marijuana Testing Labs
Finally, It feels like we have been discussing the start of recreational marijuana sales in Massachusetts for years now. Well, we have actually. Massachusetts voters legalized adult-use marijuana in the 2016 election and the cannabis control commission has been in no rush to issue all of the licenses necessary to begin the commercial sale of weed. However, on Wednesday, the last piece of the puzzle was put in place as two marijuana lab testing companies received their licenses. Massachusetts mandates that all cannabis be independently tested before it is sold to consumers, as it should be. Now that two cannabis testing facilities are licensed. the first adult-use marijuana sale is expected to happen within days in the city of Northampton. The people of Massachusetts must just see 2018 as a banner year. The Red Sox won the World Series, the Patriots are just great again and now the people can smoke weed legally.
Well that is it for this week everyone. Congratulations to Michigan, Utah and Missouri, and all of those that worked so hard for marijuana reform. We will continue to track the progress of the elections in Georgia and Florida and keep all of you updated. Don’t miss us at MJ Biz Con right here in Las Vegas this upcoming Wednesday through Friday. Richard Lowe will be conducting interview and covering the event. Please go checkout out our Instagram and Twitter pages @NationalMJNews. Have a great weekend everyone, this is Todd Denkin with The National Marijuana News.