Washington (CNN)“Clueless” star and former Fox News commentator Stacey Dash is withdrawing her congressional bid, a representative for the actress confirmed to CNN Friday.
Washington (CNN)“Clueless” star and former Fox News commentator Stacey Dash is withdrawing her congressional bid, a representative for the actress confirmed to CNN Friday.
Sadly, many students and teachers in America today live in constant fear that their school could someday be attacked by a deranged gunman. But after the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Florida lawmakers have finally stepped up to pass legislation that will protect students in their state from experiencing a similar nightmare: Florida is now requiring anyone carrying out a school shooting to be accompanied by a therapist to ensure they’re not mentally ill.
Thank God. With this regulation in place, the possibility of a troubled person using a gun to carry out horrific violence will no longer be a daily concern for Florida’s schoolchildren.
According to the new gun safety regulations, anyone who opens fire on students, teachers, or staff at a Florida school must now be chaperoned by a licensed counselor, who will periodically administer an array of verbal and visual tests to the shooter to confirm that he or she is not experiencing symptoms of any psychiatric disorder recognized by the DSM-5 for the duration of the armed rampage. The therapist accompanying the shooter will be required by law to stay at his side for the duration of the attack and to monitor him from the moment he opens fire on his classmates and teachers to the moment he turns his gun on his final victim.
If at any point while firing on their classmates, the active shooter exhibits symptoms of psychosis, bipolar disorder, ADHD, or any other form of mental illness, the therapist will be legally obligated to report the ongoing massacre to both local police and the FBI, who will begin taking steps to neutralize the situation and to ensure the unstable shooter no longer has access to firearms.
Well done, Florida. This is commonsense gun reform at its best.
“We all know how dangerous it can be if a mentally ill person gets their hands on a firearm, so from now on, we will do everything we can to make sure any Florida resident who decides to use a gun to murder children inside a school is of sound mind,” explained Florida Governor Rick Scott. “We are confident that having mental health professionals present for all future school shootings will help us ensure that anyone carrying out a school shooting in the future is able to pass a psychiatric background check.”
This is incredible news. After the horrifying bloodshed of the Parkland shooting, it’s inspiring to see government officials work so hard to give students and parents some much-needed peace of mind. In a country where gun violence has become an epidemic, this is the kind of sensible problem-solving we need. Let’s hope this legislation finds its way to other states to help keep American children safe from the unhinged people who could potentially hurt them.
When you move to America from a country with more effective gun control laws, one of the first things you learn is how hard it is to talk to Americans — even on the sympathetic side of the political divide — about the gun issue.
It was particularly difficult when I arrived on these shores in 1996, direct from living in Scotland during its (and Britain’s) worst-ever school shooting. In the tiny town of Dunblane, a 43-year old former shopkeeper and scoutmaster brought four handguns to a school gymnasium full of five-year-olds. He shot and killed 16 of them and their teacher, then turned his handgun on himself.
After Dunblane, the British plunged into a state of collective mourning that was at least as widespread as the better-known grieving process for Princess Diana the following year. (Americans don’t always believe that part, to which I usually say: the kids were five, for crying out loud. Five.)
In a country where nobody would dream of pulling public funding for studies into gun violence, the solution was amazingly rational and bipartisan. After a year, and an official inquiry into Dunblane, the Conservative government passed a sweeping piece of legislation restricting handguns. Then after Labour won the 1997 election, it passed another. Britain hasn’t seen a school shooting since. (Same with Australia, which also passed major gun control legislation in 1996).
But trying to talk about all that in America over the last two decades, I’ve learned from experience, has been like touching the proverbial third rail: only tourists would be dumb enough to try it. Even gun control advocates now think they’re dealing with an intractable, generational problem. Many tell me that we need to tackle mental health services or gun fetishization in Hollywood movies first. The legislation route couldn’t possibly be that easy, they say.
But what if it is that easy? What if the rest of the world also loves Hollywood action movies and has mental health problems, but manages to have fewer shootings simply because it has fewer guns available? What if the rest of the world has been shouting at America for years that gun control is less intractable than you think — you just have to vote in large numbers for the politicians that favor it, and keep doing so at every election?
If that’s the case, then perhaps some powerful, leveling international marketplace of ideas could help the U.S. see what everyone else has already seen. Something like social media.
In one sense, Wednesday’s massacre in Parkland, Florida — a school shooting as shocking and senseless as Dunblane — was evidence that America was further away from a gun control solution than ever. In 1996, buying an AR-15 assault rifle was illegal under federal law. Now, in Florida and many other states, a 19-year old can walk into any gun store and walk out with this military-grade weapon of mass destruction.
Yet anecdotally, I have noticed one glimmer of hope. Since the last American gun massacre that got everyone talking, there has been a small shift in the online conversation. It has become a little more global. The students of Parkland have been broadcasting to the world via social media, and the world is taking notice.
There has only been one mass shooting In the uk since we passed our last major gun control laws in 1996 when there was a mass shooting at a school. The one mass shooting since (which was in 2010) was not at a school. So yes I’d say our way works a lot better than the American way
— Danny Allen (@NewTruegunner) February 16, 2018
I’m not suggesting some kind of slam-dunk situation where every American on Twitter and Facebook and Snapchat has an epiphany about gun control because they’re more frequently interacting with people from other nations with different laws.
But I am saying it’s noticeably harder for pro-gun accounts to spread lies about the situation in other countries without people from those countries chiming in.
≪Translated from Australian≫
Me: People are arguing it’s not the guns fault
Mate: Isn’t this number 18 this year?
Mate: How many for us this year?
Me: Still none
Mate: When was the last?
Mate: I think it might be the guns
— Drop Bear Gorgeous (@typoxia) February 15, 2018
Meanwhile, there is a mountain of evidence that Russian bots and troll accounts are attempting to hijack the online conversation using the same playbook from the 2016 elections — manufacture conflict to destabilize American discourse. That means taking the most trollishly pro-NRA position they can think of, in a bid to counteract the large majority of Americans who want sensible gun control.
So the voices from other countries are chiming in just in time. If anything, we need more of them to balance out cynical foreign influence in a pro-gun direction.
Twenty years of trying to have this debate in the U.S. have worn me down. As you might expect, I’ve been on the receiving end of a lot of Second Amendment-splaining from the pro-gun lobby. (Yep, I’m very familiar with the two centuries of debate over the militia clause, thanks.) I’ve been told I didn’t understand the power of the NRA (which, again, I’m quite familiar with: the organization supported sensible gun restrictions until it was radicalized in 1977).
I’ve heard every argument you could imagine: the notion that British police must now be lording it over the poor defenseless population; the blinkered insistence that there must have been a rise in crime with illegal guns and legal knives now all the good people with guns have been taken out of the equation. (Violent crime is still too high in the UK, but it is a fraction of America’s total — and has declined significantly since 1996.)
I no longer have the dream that a UK-Australia-style handgun ban would work here. There are as many as 300 million firearms in private hands, according to a 2012 Congressional estimate; even though most of them are concentrated in the hands of a small percentage of owners, it’s simply impractical to talk about removing a significant percentage of them from the equation.
But if anything, I’m more aware of creative legal solutions: laws that require gun insurance the way we require car insurance, or tax ammunition, or hold manufacturers responsible for gun deaths. I’ve seen my adopted state of California implement some of the toughest gun laws in the nation, laws that just went into effect. The fight to prevent future massacres is just getting started.
And any time you want to talk about how it can happen, the rest of a shrinking world is listening — and ready to talk.
(CNN)President Donald Trump wasn’t — and, apparently, still isn’t — happy that Democrats in Congress didn’t stand to applaud him in his State of the Union address last week.
On Friday, President Donald Trump visited Parkland, Florida in the wake of a school shooting in a high school that left 17 people dead. But Trump has faced criticism over the way he carried himself during that visit.
After an awkward meeting with first responders, the president and first lady Melania Trump stood together for a friendly photo op, which in itself seems insensitive. Trump had a huge smile on his face in the photo, and flashed his now signature thumbs up.
Trump updated his Twitter cover photo with the picture from the meeting Friday evening.
Trump also visited Broward Health North hospital in Pompano Beach, where many of the victims received care after the shooting. On his official Instagram, a series of images posted in an album featured Trump wearing a large smile on his face, flashing a thumbs up in a photo with hospital staff.
FEBRUARY 16, 2018 Our entire Nation, with one heavy heart, continues to pray for the victims and their families in Parkland, Florida. To teachers, law enforcement, first responders and medical professionals who responded so bravely in the face of danger: We THANK YOU for your courage — and we are hear for you, ALWAYS! Our administration is working closely with local authorities to investigate the shooting and learn everything we can. We are committed to working with state and local leaders to help secure our schools, and tackle the difficult issue of mental health. God Bless You All — and THANK YOU!
A post shared by President Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on
The press asked Trump if he met with any victims at the hospital. Instead of speaking about the impact those meetings may have had on him as a president, as a human, Trump decided to fluff up the hospital.
A post shared by President Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on
“Fantastic hospital, and they have done an incredible job,” Trump boasted. “The doctor was amazing, we saw numerous people and incredible recovery. And first responders — everybody — the job they’ve done was in incredible.”
Trump then congratulated a doctor he was standing next to.
While yes, first responders and hospital staff should be thanked and praised for their hard work in wake of the shooting, congratulations here are completely tone deaf considering 17 people lost their lives in the attack.
In any other presidency, this would be a time for mourning. But Trump is using it to boast and brag.
Many were quick to criticize Trump for his demeanor on social media, with some pointing to Barack Obama’s reaction to the Sandy Hook massacre in December of 2012. In 2016, Obama also delivered a powerful and emotional speech on gun violence, in which he broke down crying.
Trump has no emotions. He is shallow affect, psychotic. No one in their right mind would smile and give thumbs up in this situation. Real president vs fake president. Real sorrow vs photo op. Good vs evil. #ImpeachTrumpPence pic.twitter.com/WbEq7MFs6I
— Madeline, Washer of Brains (@ChicagoDungeon) February 17, 2018
Trump’s meeting with the first responders was a somber occasion to reflect on a national tragedy. It is now his twitter handle photo, in which he’s smiling with his thumbs up.
— Sam Stein (@samstein) February 17, 2018
Obama’s official White House photographer, Pete Souza, who has made it his duty to criticize the Trump administration by way of his photography from the Obama era, uploaded a photo of Obama sitting alone in a classroom in Sandy Hook Elementary School. It captures the former president in a quiet moment after he met with families for hours, and before he attended a prayer vigil.
Dec. 16, 2012. Newtown. After meeting with families for hours, he sat alone in a classroom before attending a prayer vigil: “….This is our first task — caring for our children. It’s our first job. If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right. That’s how, as a society, we will be judged. And by that measure, can we truly say, as a nation, that we are meeting our obligations? Can we honestly say that we’re doing enough to keep our children — all of them — safe from harm? Can we claim, as a nation, that we’re all together there, letting them know that they are loved, and teaching them to love in return? Can we say that we’re truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose? I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer is no. We’re not doing enough. And we will have to change.”
A post shared by Pete Souza (@petesouza) on
While it often seems like President Trump’s actions couldn’t be more shocking, this type of behavior is disgusting, and the heavy criticism is merited. There’s a time for photo ops, and then there is time for mourning. This was not the moment for Trump to show off how great he’s making America.
America has a real problem, and Trump isn’t even trying to fake it.
President Donald Trump will propose cutting entitlement programs by $1.7 trillion, including Medicare, in a fiscal 2019 budget that seeks billions of dollars to build a border wall, improve veterans’ health care and combat opioid abuse and that is likely to be all but ignored by Congress.
The entitlement cuts over a decade are included in a White House summary of the budget obtained by Bloomberg News. The document says that the budget will propose cutting spending on Medicare, the health program for the elderly and disabled, by $237 billion but doesn’t specify other mandatory programs that would face reductions, a category that also includes Social Security, Medicaid, food stamps, welfare and agricultural subsidies.
The Medicare cut wouldn’t affect the program’s coverage or benefits, according to the document. The budget will also call for annual 2 percent cuts to non-defense domestic spending beginning “after 2019.’
At a time when the prospect of rising annual budget shortfalls has spooked financial markets, the White House said in a statement — without explanation — that its plan would cut the federal deficit by $3 trillion over 10 years and reduce debt as a percentage of gross domestic product. Yet, in a break from a longstanding Republican goal, the plan won’t balance the budget in 10 years, according to a person familiar with the proposal.
The budget, to be released later on Monday, is unlikely to gain traction on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers routinely ignore the spending requests required annually from the executive branch. And Congress passed its own spending bill on Friday, including a two-year budget deal, which the president signed into law.
According to the summary, Trump will urge an increase in defense spending to $716 billion and a 2.6 percent pay raise for troops. He will request $18 billion to build a wall on the Mexican border, the summary indicates.
The White House also seeks $200 billion for the infrastructure proposal the administration plans to unveil alongside the fiscal year 2019 budget, as well as new regulatory cuts.
“This will be a big week for Infrastructure,” Trump said in a Twitter message Monday. “After so stupidly spending $7 trillion in the Middle East, it is now time to start investing in OUR Country!”
Monday’s document will outline proposed spending reforms the administration says would, if enacted, cut deficits over the next decade — even as recently passed tax legislation and spending caps threaten to drive future annual deficits above $1 trillion.
“Just like every American family, the budget makes hard choices: fund what we must, cut where we can, and reduce what we borrow,” Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said in a statement. “It’s with respect for the hard work of the American people that we spend their tax dollars efficiently, effectively, and with accountability.”
A year ago, Trump asked lawmakers to cut $3.6 trillion in federal spending over the next ten years, and identified deep cuts to domestic spending programs. Instead, lawmakers last week passed a two-year government funding deal that would boost military and non-defense spending by $300 billion over the next two years and add more than $80 billion in disaster relief.
But administration officials argue their proposals, dead on arrival though they may be, is still an important marker of the president’s legislative priorities.
The plan includes a heavy emphasis on immigration enforcement. Trump is requesting $782 million to hire 2,750 new border and immigration officers, and $2.7 billion to detain people in the country illegally. Trump is also asking for $18 billion over the next two fiscal years toward the goal of constructing a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico. That’s a key point of contention in the ongoing legislative battle over the fate of young people, known as “Dreamers,” who were brought to the country illegally as children.
The proposal also includes $13 billion in new funding to combat the opioid epidemic, which Trump has frequently cited as among his top domestic priorities. The administration would provide a $3 billion boost to the Department of Health and Human Services in the next fiscal year, and $10 billion in 2019.
The proposal takes “money that the Democrats want to put to these social programs and move it to things like infrastructure, move it to things like opioid relief, move it to things that are in line with the president’s priorities so that if it does get spent, at least it get spent to the right places,” Mulvaney said Sunday during an appearance on Fox News.
Other elements include $85.5 billion in discretionary funding for veterans health services, education, and vocational rehabilitation, the OMB said on Sunday. It is not clear how much of that funding would represent an increase from current spending levels.
The budget also includes $200 billion in federal funds over the next decade that the White House says would spur $1.5 trillion in infrastructure spending through partnerships with state and local governments and private developers. That includes $21 billion over the next two years that the White House says would “jump start key elements of the infrastructure initiative.”
Trump will discuss the public works proposal on Monday with governors, mayors, state legislators and other officials, and he expects to meet with Congressional leaders from both parties at the White House on Feb. 14. The president plans to visit Orlando, Florida, on Feb. 16 for an infrastructure event, and he and cabinet members will also promote the plan at events around the U.S., officials said.
The White House said its initial approach is to offset the $200 billion in the budget for its infrastructure plan with spending cuts elsewhere, including from some transit and transportation programs the administration doesn’t think have been spent effectively. But Trump is open to new sources of funding, a senior White House official told reporters.
The White House also didn’t detail how much money it wanted to devote to new spending on the military, but OMB said the proposal would provide “for a robust and rebuilt national defense.” In last year’s budget proposal, Trump called for a $52.3 billion boost for the Defense Department, while asking for deep cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency, State Department, and Department of Health and Human Services.
Mulvaney said this year’s documents — theoretical though they may be — would see those agencies targeted again for budget cuts.
“There’s still going to be the president’s priorities as we seek to spend the money consistently with our priorities, not with the priorities that were reflected most by the Democrats in Congress,” he told Fox News.
Trump on Friday complained on Twitter that in order to boost military spending, “we were forced to increase spending on things we do not like or want.”
The budget proposal assumes that the U.S. economy will ramp up over the next decade to his goal of 3 percent growth, according to an administration official on Friday who confirmed figures to be contained in Monday’s budget proposal. Economic growth is projected at 3.2 percent in 2019 and 2020.
What do you do when you discover you’re wrong? That’s a conundrum Daniel Bolnick recently faced. He’s an evolutionary biologist, and in 2009 he published a paper with a cool finding: Fish with different diets have quite different body types. Biologists had suspected this for years, but Bolnick offered strong confirmation by collecting tons of data and plotting it on a chart for all to see. Science for the win!
The problem was, he’d made a huge blunder. When a colleague tried to replicate Bolnick’s analysis in 2016, he couldn’t. Bolnick investigated his original work and, in a horrified instant, recognized his mistake: a single miswritten line of computer code. “I’d totally messed up,” he realized.
But here’s the thing: Bolnick immediately owned up to it. He contacted the publisher, which on November 16, 2016, retracted the paper. Bolnick was mortified. But, he tells me, it was the right thing to do.
Why do I recount this story? Because I think society ought to give Bolnick some sort of a prize. We need moral examples of people who can admit when they’re wrong. We need more Heroes of Retraction.
Right now society has an epidemic of the opposite: too many people with a bulldog unwillingness to admit when they’re factually wrong. Politicians are shown evidence that climate change is caused by human activity but still deny our role. Trump fans are confronted with near-daily examples of his lies but continue to believe him. Minnesotans have plenty of proof that vaccines don’t cause autism but forgo shots and end up sparking a measles outbreak.
“Never underestimate the power of confirmation bias,” says Carol Tavris, a social psychologist and coauthor of Mistakes Were Made (but Not by Me). As Tavris notes, one reason we can’t admit we have the facts wrong is that it’s too painful to our self-conception as smart, right-thinking people—or to our political tribal identity. So when we get information that belies this image, we simply ignore it. It’s incredibly hard, she writes, to “break out of the cocoon of self-justification.”
That’s why we need moral exemplars. If we want to fight the power of self-delusion, we need tales of honesty. We should find and loudly laud the awesome folks who have done the painful work of admitting error. In other words, we need more Bolnicks.
Science, it turns out, is an excellent place to find such people. After all, the scientific method requires you to recognize when you’re wrong—to do so happily, in fact.
Granted, I don’t want to be too starry-eyed about science. The “replication crisis” still rages. There are plenty of academics who, when their experimental results are cast into doubt, dig in their heels and insist all is well. (And cases of outright fakery and fraud can make scholars less likely to admit their sin, as Ivan Oransky, the cofounder of the Retraction Watch blog, notes.) Professional vanity is powerful, and a hot paper gets a TED talk.
Still, the scientific lodestar still shines. Bolnick isn’t alone in his Boy Scout–like rectitude. In the past year alone, mathematicians have pulled papers when they’ve learned their proofs don’t hold and economists have retracted work after finding they’d misclassified their data. The Harvard stem-cell biologist Douglas Melton had a hit 2013 paper that got cited hundreds of times—but when colleagues couldn’t replicate the finding, he yanked it.
Fear of humiliation is a strong deterrent to facing error. But admitting you’re mistaken can actually bolster your cred. “I got such a positive response,” Bolnick told me. “On Twitter and on blog posts, people were saying, ‘Yeah, you outed yourself, and that’s fine!’” There’s a lesson there for all of us.
This article appears in the February issue. Subscribe now.
A guide to busting through confirmation bias, the cognitive fallacy that's destroying our discourse.
2018 sure is off to a running start in Trumpland.
The 45th President of the United States kicked off a busy weekend of meetings at Camp David on Saturday with a brief, fiery tweetstorm that — even at this early point in 2018 — is already a surefire candidate for the year’s most memorable.
In three tweets, Donald Trump addressed his intellect (“being, like, really smart”), his mental stability (“a very stable genius”), and his successful presidential election campaign (“on my first try”). He doesn’t come out and say it, but the tweets are likely a response to Michael Wolff’s upcoming book, in which Trump insiders question the president’s stability on the record, and/or recent meetings on Capitol Hill to discuss the president’s mental state.
Now that Russian collusion, after one year of intense study, has proven to be a total hoax on the American public, the Democrats and their lapdogs, the Fake News Mainstream Media, are taking out the old Ronald Reagan playbook and screaming mental stability and intelligence…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2018
….Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart. Crooked Hillary Clinton also played these cards very hard and, as everyone knows, went down in flames. I went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2018
….to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius….and a very stable genius at that!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2018
In typical Trump fashion, the three-tweet tirade blows past known facts in favor of creating a particular narrative. The “first try” election claim, for one, is hogwash; Trump ran in 2000, and even won a couple of primaries — though only after he left the race, in Feb. 2000.
He ran under the Reform Party banner, and ultimately blamed his exit on the political organization being a “total mess.” The Reform Party countered at the time with the contention that Trump’s bid had never been serious.
“Donald Trump came in, promoted his hotels, he promoted his book, he promoted himself at our expense, and I think he understands fully that we’ve ended the possibilities for such abuse of our party,” party leader Patrick Choate said at the time.
Predictably, Trump’s tweets drew a disbelieving response from social media.
BREAKING….. My new band will be called “Stable Genius” with opening group “First Try” at the Pantages! A JesusTakeTheWheel production. 😂
— Jonathan Capehart (@CapehartJ) January 6, 2018
The only true stable genius has to be Mr. Ed., who talks in more complex sentences than the current occupier of the Whitehouse.
— Rob Reiner (@robreiner) January 6, 2018
By all means, laugh at Trump’s ridiculously transparent feelings of inadequacy if it helps you get through the day. But don’t let it draw you away from staying informed on news items of actual import.
This week alone: G.O.P. legislators asked the Justice Department to investigate Christopher Steele, the former British spy behind the infamous Trump dossier; the White House renewed its demand for a border wall; the U.S. cut off security aid to Pakistan; and the Justice Department moved to imperil the country’s burgeoning marijuana industry.
Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump slammed reports questioning his mental stability in a series of tweets Saturday morning, writing he’s a “very stable genius” after the publication of an expos about his first year as President put the White House into damage-control mode.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is rescinding an Obama-era policy that helped states legalize recreational marijuana, throwing a wet blanket on the fledgling industry during what could have been a celebratory week.
The Justice Department will reverse the so-called Cole and Ogden memos that set out guardrails for federal prosecution of cannabis and allowed legalized marijuana to flourish in states across the U.S., according to two senior agency officials. U.S. attorneys in states where pot is legal will now be able prosecute cases where they see fit, according to the officials, who requested anonymity discussing internal policy.
Shares of pot companies plunged as news of the policy change surfaced, though many began to rebound after investors weighed the potential impact.
The change comes at a high point for the weed industry. California, the biggest U.S. state and sixth-largest economy in the world, launched its legal marketplace on Jan. 1. Sales in California alone are expected to reach $3.7 billion in 2018, according to estimates from BDS Analytics.
Seven other states and the District of Columbia have also legalized cannabis for adult use. Twenty-one additional states have voted to allow the plant to be used for medicinal purposes. The market is expected to skyrocket from $6 billion in 2016 to $50 billion by 2026, according to Cowen & Co.
Sessions, a Republican from Alabama, has long been opposed to marijuana, equating it with heroin. But this is the first action he’s taken that deviates significantly from the Obama administration. Many in the industry said the news is unsurprising but disappointing.
“While dismantling the industry will prove impossible, the move by Sessions will sow more seeds of uncertainty in an industry that already has its fair share of risks and unknowns,” said Chris Walsh, vice president of Marijuana Business Daily. “Businesses could be in for a bumpy ride amid this uncertainty, and we certainly could see some types of regional crackdowns or delays in upcoming medical or recreational cannabis markets.”
The Bloomberg Intelligence Global Cannabis Competitive Peers Index dropped as much as 24 percent after the Associated Press first reported the Justice Department plan. Most companies in that group are small. Still, there are a few big names that could be hit by the changing policy.
Constellation Brands Inc., which sells Corona beer and Svedka vodka in the U.S., got involved in the cannabis industry in October when it acquired a minority investment in Canopy Growth, a Canadian marijuana company. Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. has also made its way into the Green Rush. It fell as much as 5.7 percent after the news, the biggest intraday drop since May.
A tightening of enforcement also would be felt in Canada, where the cannabis industry has blossomed. Ontario’s Canopy Growth fell as much as 19 percent to C$29.06 in Toronto, while Aphria Inc. plunged as much as 23 percent to C$16.59. ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF, the first pure-play pot ETF to be listed in the U.S., dropped as much as 9.7 percent, the biggest intraday decline since May.
Sessions’s policy may cause investors to think twice before putting their money into the Green Rush, according to Adrian Sedlin, founder of Canndescent, a marijuana cultivation and branded-flower company.
“Fear, uncertainty and doubt will rip through our industry like a California wildfire because of this,” he said. “Whatever happens longterm, this will retard and limit capital flows into the industry for the foreseeable future.”
The move is likely to sow confusion among consumers and state officials, and may spark a backlash if state-approved retailers are prosecuted. Sixty-four percent of the U.S. population now wants to make pot legal, according to a Gallup poll released in October.
But it’s too late to stop the industry from growing, said Laura Bianchi, a partner and director of cannabis, business and corporate transactions and estate planning at Rose Law Group in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“To undo this industry would be like closing Pandora’s box once it’s been opened,” she said. “It would be a Herculean effort that would undermine another Republican cornerstone, which is the importance of states’ rights.”
Senator Cory Gardner, a Republican from Colorado, where marijuana is legal, said in a tweet that Sessions’s move contradicts what he told the senator before his confirmation.
“I am prepared to take all steps necessary, including holding DOJ nominees, until the Attorney General lives up to the commitment he made to me,” Gardner said.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, said Sessions’s actions are an affront to medical patients who need to use the plant as medicine.
“Parents should be able to give their sick kids the medicine they need without having to fear that they will be prosecuted,” she said in a statement. “This is about public health, and it’s about reforming our broken criminal justice system that throws too many minorities in prison for completely nonviolent offenses.”
Still, the federal policy change may not actually hurt business much at all. Entrepreneurs starting marijuana businesses have already been working under risky circumstances. The plant has remained federally illegal, meaning most large companies — including banks — have shied away. Instead, the business has relied on state regulators, many of whom previously said they would defend the industry through any federal crackdown.
“We’re not overly concerned that a change in DOJ policy around cannabis will be meaningfully disruptive to legal adult use cannabis states, given the vocal support offered by these state-level AG’s,” said Vivien Azer, a Cowen & Co. analyst who covers the industry.