Alabama Sen. Jefferson Beauregard “Jeff” Sessions III — who claimed that “good people don’t smoke marijuana” — is Donald Trump’s choice to be the Attorney General.
Sessions, who has served Alabama as a senator for two decades, is one of the most ardent anti-marijuana voices in the nation and his nomination could throw national cannabis laws into chaos.
It has been just 10 days since eight states approved pro-marijuana initiatives on the ballot. There are now 28 states that have medical marijuana programs and eight states (plus Washington D.C.) that have legalized recreational cannabis for adult use.
What Session’s appointment would mean to these state laws is not clear, but marijuana advocates are alarmed.
From Tom Angell, from Marijuana Majority:
“While the choice certainly isn’t good news for marijuana reform, I’m still hopeful the new administration will realize that any crackdown against broadly popular laws in a growing number of states would create huge political problems they don’t need and will use lots of political capital they’d be better off spending on issues the new president cares a lot more about.
“A clear majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana and super-majorities across party lines believe that states should be able to implement their own cannabis laws without federal interference. The truth is, marijuana reform is much more popular with voters than most politicians are, and officials in the new administration would do well to take a careful look at the polling data on this issue before deciding what to do.
“During the campaign the president-elect clearly pledged to respect state marijuana laws, and he should keep his word — both because it’s the right thing to do and because a reversal would be a huge political misstep.”
From the Drug Policy Alliance:
This was our worst nightmare. Donald Trump has picked Jeff Sessions to be the next Attorney General. It really couldn’t get any worse.
Over these last four years we’ve made great gains across the political spectrum toward treating drug use as a health issue, not a criminal one. Jeff Sessions will try to dismantle all that.
Get ready for raids on marijuana businesses. Get ready for militarized, Reagan-era drug war tactics. We can’t let this stand.
From the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML):
Senator Sessions is clearly off the reservation on this one and is diametrically opposed to the overwhelming public opinion which stands in favor of the legalization and regulation of marijuana. This could foreshadow some very bad things for the eight states that have legalized marijuana for adult use and the more than half of the country that has operating medical marijuana programs.
With the authority the position of Attorney General provides, Sessions could immediately get to work attempting to block the implementation of the recent ballot initiatives, start dismantling a legal industry in Washington, Colorado, Oregon and Alaska, and begin conducting massive raids on existing medical and recreational retail stores.
The attorney general oversees the Justice Department which enforces all national laws. Since marijuana is still federally illegal, the state laws hang in a tenuous balance. And Sessions has made it clear where he stands on the issue.
Sessions On Marijuana Policy
- During a Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control in April, Sessions said: Marijuana is “dangerous, you cannot play with it, it’s not something to laugh about and trying to send that message with clarity, that good people don’t smoke marijuana.”
- During a Senate hearing in 2014, Sessions told Attorney General Eric Holder: “Lady Gaga says she’s addicted to (marijuana) and it is not harmless.”
- After President Obama made a statement on marijuana policy, Sessions fired back: “You can’t have the President of the United States of America talking about marijuana … you are sending a message to young people that there is no danger in this process. It is false that marijuana use doesn’t lead people to more drug use. It is already causing a disturbance in the States that have made it legal.”
- In 1986, Sessions said he thought the Ku Klux Klan was “okay until I found out they smoked pot.” He later apologized for the comment.