Many, many people—from celebrities to politicians—have expressed strong distaste and opposition to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Why? Mostly because of his continued assault on marijuana, which escalated when he rescinded the Cole Memo, an Obama-era document that protected states with legalized marijuana from federal prosecution.
But the latest reveal in who stands against Sessions’ policies is perhaps the biggest political name thus far. That name would be the Koch brothers, who hold significant clout in conservative circles.
Because the people have voted to legalize cannabis in states like California, Maine, and Colorado, the Koch brothers believe the Justice Department should reverse course and “choose to be on the side of individual liberty and states’ rights.” As their statement reads, “citizens have spoken on marijuana” and the government shouldn’t interfere.
“That Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a Republican appointee in a Republican administration, is undoing a Democratic appointee’s work from a Democratic administration is irrelevant,” the statement reads. “Republicans and Democrats alike have criticized the decision, and for good reason: It does little to improve the lives of people in our communities.”
The Koch brothers hold considerable influence within the Republican party, as they are some of its wealthiest donors. For the 2018 midterm election cycle alone they’ve pledged $400 million in donations. This statement could be monumental in swaying conservatives to vote in favor of legalizing marijuana in the coming elections. As Westword writes, “The Kochs’ public disagreement with the Trump administration over marijuana could offer Republican electives more leeway to support legal marijuana at the state level without risking major GOP donor support.”
But what’s more is the statement from the Koch brothers doesn’t only use states’ rights as a reason to support marijuana efforts; the statement also condemns the war on drugs.
Resources spent fighting a misguided war on drugs should instead go toward programs for those reentering society, including rehabilitation, treatment and job training. Instead of prosecuting non-violent drug offenders for doing what has already been legalized in half a dozen states and decriminalized in several others, the administration would be better suited working with members of Congress to reform outdated sentencing laws. However well-intentioned these laws were upon implementation, they have ruined lives, torn apart families and communities, and have burdened taxpayers, doing little to keep people safe.
It’s odd when Bernie Sanders and the Koch brothers stand in unison against a Republican-initiated cause, but those are the political times we live in.