Over the last decade, many states including New York have going through the process of decriminalizing cannabis for both medical and recreational purposes. At the end of the most recent election cycle, over half of the nation has legal marijuana use in some form. It would appear as though the nation is making a decision about how they think marijuana should be treated by the federal government. However, the incoming federal administration may have a contradicting view.
President-elect Donald Trump has provided little in the way of a definitive opinion on the subject, although he has mentioned that he supports the medical use of the drug. His nominee for the position of Attorney General, however, has taken a very definitive stance on the issue.
Senator Jeff Sessions and his marijuana opposition
Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III was nominated by President-elect Donald J. Trump to fill the position of Attorney General. The attorney general has a very large amount of influence over existing laws and their alteration, including drug laws.
Sessions has made no effort to hide his opposition to marijuana. He has adamantly opposed the legalization of marijuana for any use whatsoever, medical or otherwise. He has even gone so far as to say things like "Good people don't smoke marijuana" and that he thought the KKK "were OK until [he] found out they smoked pot."
He has also been very vocal in his belief that the current Attorneys General and the Director of the FBI have not done a good enough job enforcing existing marijuana laws, which have marijuana listed as a Schedule I drug (meaning it has no medical value, among other things). However, there has also been growing support for marijuana law reform in other areas of the government. Even in somewhat unlikely places.
At this point, the nation will have to wait until the new federal administration is established before we can start making definitive judgments about the direction marijuana law reform is going. The state of New York often provides a model for other states to emulate when it comes to enacting new policy and this was definitely the case when medical cannabis was first legalized in New York State.
Despite the legal, albeit narrow, medical use and minor decriminalization in regard to possession, marijuana-related crimes can still greatly impact the lives of New Yorkers. If you find yourself in a situation where you are being confronted by potential criminal charges because of marijuana, it is highly suggested that you seek out the services of an experienced legal professional. They will be able to assist you and use their expertise to work for the best possible outcome.