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In a recent report from the Huffington Post, it has been brought to attention that Trump’s nominee for attorney general, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), could potentially undo years of progression on marijuana policy. It’s believed Trump picked Sessions for his views on immigration, not weed, but Trump’s “notorious tendency to waffle on any number of issues is a reason for concern.”
Marijuana is still illegal under federal law, and the only reason states such as Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska are able to allow citizens to use marijuana recreationally, is because federal prosecutors have been guided to refrain from targeting state-legal marijuana operations. According to the Huffington Post, it’s been under Obama’s presidency that the DOJ has allowed states to create their own marijuana policies, but with Sessions heading the department, this could be completely undermined.
In a statement from John Hudak, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who is reported to write extensively on marijuana policy:
“Jeff Sessions should scare every regulator, government official, cannabis industry operator, patient and consumer across the country.”
Sessions would have the power to use the FBI to shut down marijuana operations nationwide, and he could use the D.E.A. to enforce prohibition, despite a ruling by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court that blocks federal officials from prosecuting state-legal marijuana operators. The court’s ruling is based on a rider that needs to be approved each year, and if it’s allowed to expire, Sessions could order D.E.A. enforcement nationwide.
Marijuana advocates, such as Bill Piper of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), have condemned Trump for choosing Jeff Sessions. He states:
“Donald Trump’s decision heralds a return to the worst days of the drug war.”
According to Ethan Nadelmann, DPA’s executive director:
“Jeff Sessions is a drug war dinosaur, which is the last thing the nation needs now.” He continues, “Those who counted on Donald Trump’s reassurance that marijuana reforms ‘should be a state issue’ will be sorely disappointed.”
Sessions has already spoken out against pot, and has apparently urged the federal government to send the message that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.” He also included that “we need grown-ups in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized.” To give a little history on Sessions, he once stated he thought the Ku Klux Klan was okay, until he “found out they smoked pot,” too.
In the meantime, four more states have legalized recreational marijuana – California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts – and many drug policy reformers have hope that they can persevere should Sessions be confirmed.
“I am hopeful that the next administration, regardless of the attorney general’s personal feelings, will respect the 10th Amendment and states’ rights to set their own policy in regards to cannabis,” stated Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.).
Click here for the Huffington Post’s full report.
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