Just after inauguration, The National District Attorney’s Association (NDAA) created a policy group featuring 14 district attorneys who will issue advisements on possible law or policy changes regarding cannabis.
At their first meeting, the group reportedly wanted to draft a letter to all governors in states where medical and recreational cannabis are legal, instructing them to shut those businesses down within 90 days. Yikes.
That didn’t happen. But the fact that it was considered created a momentary burst of fear that rattled the industry and caught many off-guard. Who are these guys, and what kind of power do they wield?
It’s a reflection of the NDAA’s interest in having a fairly balanced committee, which will be largely advising on what our policy position should be in communications with the Trump justice department
According to an article in the Boulder County News, Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett was selected to join the group of prosecutors to advise the new administration regarding cannabis policy. Garnett is the only active prosecutor from Colorado in the group, but said there are also district attorneys from California and Oregon—other states with recreational marijuana—in the group.
“It’s a reflection of the NDAA’s interest in having a fairly balanced committee, which will be largely advising on what our policy position should be in communications with the Trump justice department,” Garnett told the Boulder County News.
But while Garnett has acknowledged there are a wide variety of states in different stages of marijuana legalization represented in the group, he said for the most part the NDAA is still largely conservative, which is why he felt it was important to add his voice.
Garnett has said that he considers himself more liberal than others, especially regarding cannabis, and has stated that he wants to emphasize the exorbitant growth of the cannabis business in Colorado, and keep things in perspective for the other prosecutors in the group.
It’s clear that the creation of this policy group doesn’t sound like good news for the cannabis industry. It almost appears as a move to give more firepower—and more cover—to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
The NDAA represents 2,500 diverse Republican and Democratic elected prosecutors and their 40,000 assistants. In November, the group formally endorsed Senator Sessions as attorney general.
In a press release, the group practically gushed about their endorsement: “Rarely in the history of this great country has a candidate been more qualified to serve in this capacity in an effort to promote and protect public safety.”
Nothing came out of the group since their formation in late January until April 20, when a working group of 27 NDAA attorneys—four from Colorado, and three from California—released a white paper that cited the same old drug-war concerns about impaired driving, exposure to children and lack of laboratory analysis as issues that will keep prosecutors vigilant as the industry develops.
They summarized their findings, which echoed Sessions’ position during his confirmation hearing, as follows: “NDAA takes the position that federal drug enforcement policy regarding the manufacture, importation, possession, use and distribution of marijuana should be applied consistently across the nation to maintain respect for the rule of law.”