When Jeff Sessions was nominated by President Trump to the Attorney General position, most cannabis advocates were none too happy about it. Among other red flags of pro-Drug War, anti-marijuana actions in his past, the most memorable and troubling of Sessions remarks regarding pot were that “good people don’t smoke marijuana” and that he thought the KKK “was okay until I found out they smoked pot.”
As part of his confirmation hearings with a senate subcommittee, Sessions submitted nearly 200 pages of written responses on several subjects including his hard line on cannabis. Tom Angell, in his Marijuana Newsletter, sorted through these responses to make them a little easier to read. We only wish that Sessions himself had made things a little easier to understand. It almost seems like he’s being trying to be confusing.
When asked about the whole “good people don’t smoke marijuana” thing, he didn’t give a direct answer. He sounded like he was starting to retract, then doubled down on the dangers of weed. “My words have been grossly mischaracterized and taken out of context,” he said. “I was discussing the value of treating people for using dangerous and illegal drugs like marijuana, and the context in which treatment is successful.”
So, marijuana is “dangerous” and treating those who use it is, what, up for debate because they’re not “good people?”
If you think this approach might mean bad news for the potential AG’s attitude toward federal intervention of state-legalized marijuana programs. But it turns out that Sessions isn’t even up to speed on that issue.
When it comes to the Cole Memorandum (a memo from the Department of Justice which recommended that law enforcement should focus its resources on cannabis crimes when they are violent, involve a minor, involve other drugs or are adjacent to another crime), Sessions pleaded ignorance on it, saying he was “not privy to any internal Department of Justice data regarding the effectiveness and value of the policies contained within that memorandum,” but that he would “not privy to any internal Department of Justice data regarding the effectiveness and value of the policies contained within that memorandum.” So, he basically wiggled out of giving an opinion on it.
Regarding a Congressional rider which limited the Justice Department from targeting people compliant with state and local medical marijuana laws, Sessions sang a familiar tune: he was “not familiar with how other courts may have interpreted the relevant appropriations language or the Ninth Circuit’s opinion,” so that issue would “need to be closely evaluated.” He also added that, “Of course, medical marijuana use is a small part of the growing commercial marijuana industry.” Of course, even though there are currently medical marijuana markets in 28 states and recreational markets in only 8.
Democrats are currently stalling Sessions confirmation, but it will likely take place next week.