Attorney General Jeff Sessions — who earlier this year said “good people don’t smoke marijuana” — confirmed during a congressional hearing on Tuesday that the Obama-era guidelines on legal marijuana remain in effect. Sessions also was forced to backtrack on his previous reefer madness rhetoric and concede that marijuana is not as dangerous as heroin.”
Sessions was testifying before the House Judiciary Committee primarily focused on the Trump’s campaign’s association with Russia, but some congressmen pushed him to clarify the Department of Justice‘s policy on marijuana.
According to Forbes reporter Tom Angell, Sessions stated that his department’s policy is no different than what he inherited from the Obama administration:
“Our policy is the same, really, fundamentally as the Holder-Lynch policy, which is that the federal law remains in effect and a state can legalize marijuana for its law enforcement purposes but it still remains illegal with regard to federal purposes.”
Later in the hearing, Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., grilled the attorney general to explain his belief that “good people don’t use marijuana.”
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Asked Rep. Cohen: “You said one time that good people don’t smoke marijuana. Which of these people would you say are not good people? Is John Kasich a good person? George Pataki, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, George Bush, Arnold Schwarzenegger or Judge Clarence Thomas — which of those are not good people?”
Sessions danced around Cohen’s question, responding: “Let me tell you how that came about, Congressman. Part of that is a cultural thing. I explained how when I became United States attorney in 1981 and the drugs were being used widely, over a period years it became unfashionable, unpopular … and it was seen as such that good people didn’t use marijuana. That was the context of that statement.”
Rep. Cohen also drilled down on Session’s policy on states that have legalized cannabis for recreational purposes. “Will you abide by congressional appropriations and limitations on marijuana when it would conflict with state laws?”
Related Story: Jeff Sessions Remains Deeply Concerned About Legal Weed
Sessions reply: “I believe we are bound by that.” But earlier this year, Sessions requested that Congress not renew that amendment.
Earlier this year, Sessions said this about marijuana:
“I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store. And I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana—so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that’s only slightly less awful. Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life.”
Tuesday’s testimony appears to imply that Sessions will not move abruptly on cannabis policy. But based on his history of reefer madness, it’s hard to tell what is on his mind.