Photo via the Whie House
In his 14 months in office, Donald Trump has seen more cabinet spaces filled, vacated, and left empty than any president before him, and according to the latest round of White House rumors, Attorney General Jeff Sessions could be next on the chopping block.
But before you break out in song at the professional demise of the top cop responsible for revoking the Cole memo’s cannabis industry protections and constantly comparing weed to heroin, those same rumors — first reported by Vanity Fair — claim that Trump is looking towards current Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt to take over the role of Attorney General.
“According to two Republicans in regular contact with the White House, there have been talks that Trump could replace Sessions with E.P.A. Administrator Scott Pruitt,” Vanity Fair reported on Wednesday. “...As an agency head and former state attorney general, Pruitt would presumably have a good shot at passing a Senate confirmation hearing.”
Shortly after the speculation was published, Marijuana Moment editor Tom Angell was quick to point out Pruitt’s anti-cannabis history — a long-standing mentality that has carried over from his days as Oklahoma attorney general to his current position with the EPA.
In March 2016, Pruitt, then the Sooner State’s attorney general, joined Nebraska’s AG in a joint lawsuit against the state of Colorado, claiming that the Centennial State’s adult-use cannabis initiative was illegal under federal law and should be shut down.
That complaint was rejected by the Supreme Court, but that hasn’t stopped Pruitt from acting on his prohibitionist politics in his current position as Trump’s environment czar.
Compounding Pruitt’s scientifically moot stance as a climate change denier, the EPA leader has also personally prevented cannabis industry efforts to license pesticides for use specifically on state-legal marijuana grows. This has left the burgeoning industry to deal with often inconsistent local regulations, while risking environmental damage if cannabis farmers choose to use harsher chemicals for pest control.
“Under federal law, cultivation (along with sale and use) of cannabis is generally unlawful as a schedule I controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act,” Pruitt wrote in a letter to officials in Nevada last year. “The EPA finds that the general illegality of cannabis cultivation makes pesticide use on cannabis a fundamentally different use pattern.”
So even as the cannabis community celebrates Sessions’ potential place on the unemployment line, a Pruitt promotion may not stop the feds from continuing their anti-cannabis posturing.
Of course, it’s important to remember that the Sessions for Pruitt swap is still officially uncorroborated, and that, if implemented, Pruitt would be required to pass a Senate confirmation hearing — a task that some pundits predict could be a little more difficult than Vanity Fair originally reported.
“...With a slim majority in the Senate and questions about how he would handle oversight of the Mueller probe, Pruitt would be in for one of the toughest confirmations in recent memory,” Business Insider writer Allan Smith commented after Wednesday’s initial rumors.
As of press time, Vanity Fair’s claims have yet to be confirmed and their sources remain anonymous.