Harshing the Mellow

I write this column with tears in my eyes.Not because of the election results, mind you, but because of the weekend’s game–watching the Jaguars play football always takes an emotional toll.

Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m not at all thrilled with the election results. While there was lots of good news on the national level, lots of quality candidates elected here and elsewhere, Nov. 6 was the absolute worst-case scenario when viewed strictly through the narrow focus of the state’s cannabis policies.

In a year defined by major Democratic victories across the country, Republicans held the line in Florida, narrowly defeating the most exciting politician our state has seen this century: Andrew Gillum. They also retired Bill Nelson, which means the pot lobby’s A1 bogeyman, Rick Scott, can now push back on Amendment 2 from Washington while Ron DeSantis continues his predecessor’s policies in Tally.

The most vigorously pro-pot politician in Florida’s history is Nikki Fried. That was likely a factor in her failure to secure an un-recountable majority to become Florida Commissioner of Agriculture last Tuesday. (She also failed to flash any weapons in her advertising; apparently, this is important.)

Governor, senator and agriculture commissioner–what else can go wrong? State attorney general. Ashley Moody beat Sean Shaw for the state’s top law spot, which means no let-up on the enforcement end.

Overall, the 2018 midterms were a mixed bag nationally. Progressives can take heart in having taken control of the House, which allows them to sandbag Trump’s legislative agenda and use committee powers to initiate their own investigation(s), complete with resources and federal subpoena power.

On the other hand, conservatives somehow managed to re-up their Senate majority, so the president is impeachment-proof and fully cleared to consolidate power. We always expected a more hands-on approach to the various investigation(s) into possible collusion and corruption on the part of the executive. We didn’t expect that process to begin the day after the election, with the forced resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

One can only be ambivalent. For two years, Sessions reigned as our highest-ranking drug warrior, so he won’t be missed. But you can’t help but feel a little bad for him. This guy handed Alabama to Trump and gave up a senator-for-life gig to run the Department of Justice. What does he get in return? Fired. By phone. And the president didn’t even do the deed; he delegated the dirty work to Chief of Staff John Kelly. Sessions will now spend the rest of his life being paid to sit in rooms while people laugh at him when he’s not looking. I think it’s a job could actually succeed in. Good luck, and good riddance to you, sir!

The law is still very clear: medical marijuana is legal in Florida. Qualifying patients can get their cards quickly and cheaply. But laws are just words, and there are plenty of options available to a hostile bureaucracy that is insulated from accountability. That was the message sent by a slim majority voters last week.

Will processing times slow down? Will the OMMU budget be cut? Will entrepreneurs be subjected to the kind of financial interference that harshed Nikki Fried’s campaign?

In a word, YAS.


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