Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a memo to all U.S. attorneys that rescinded the Cole Memorandum, a decree issued in 2013 by Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole outlining federal policy on the cannabis industry. The decree, essentially, placed the responsibility of oversight over marijuana consumption and sales on individual states. “The Department’s guidance in this memorandum,” Cole wrote, “rests on the expectation that states and local governments that have enacted laws authorizing marijuana-related conduct will implement strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems that will address the threats those state laws could pose to public safety, public health and other law enforcement interests.”
This relaxation of federal oversight enabled 29 states, plus the District of Columbia, to pass laws legalizing marijuana in some form and has likely facilitated increased support for legalization or decriminalization (including in Sessions’ home state of Alabama). A Gallup poll conducted last fall showed 64% of Americans now support legal marijuana—the highest level of public support Gallup has found in nearly a half-century of measurement—and that the support is bipartisan: 72% of Democrats, 67% of Independents and 51% of Republicans now support legalization of marijuana.
Support for legalized use isn’t just about the high. According to The Cannabist, a new study by New Frontier Data (a data analytics firm focused on the cannabis industry) shows legalizing marijuana nationwide would create at least $132 billion in tax revenue and more than a million new jobs across the United States over the next decade.