If you were still celebrating the watershed election that just occurred, chances are you are feeling a bit that the honeymoon is over if you have been following politics today. President-elect Donald Trump has made his selection for Attorney General, and it could prove to have serious consequences for the growing marijuana movement and industry. Jeff Sessions is Trump’s pick. Jeff Sessions is a longtime opponent of marijuana, proven by many, many comments he has made over the years (Tom Angell has a great bank of them over on Marijuana.Com). I received a reaction from Tom on behalf of Marijuana Majority, which can be found below, followed by reactions from the National Cannabis Industry Association, NORML, and the Drug Policy Alliance:
Tom Angell, 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 supermajorities 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.”
National Cannabis Industry Association:
National Cannabis Industry Association executive director Aaron Smith issued the following statement in response to President-elect Donald Trump’s decision to nominate Senator Jeff Sessions for attorney general:
“Voters in 28 states have chosen programs that shift cannabis from the criminal market to highly regulated, tax-paying businesses. Senator Sessions has long advocated for state sovereignty, and we look forward to working with him to ensure that states’ rights and voter choices on cannabis are respected.”
Washington, DC: Today, President-Elect Donald Trump tapped Republican Senator Jeff Sessions from Alabama for the position of United States Attorney General. The selection of Sen. Sessions, a long-time opponent of marijuana law reform, comes just days after voters in eight states decided in favor of legalizing marijuana.
The selection raises immediate concerns that the incoming Trump administration may renege on campaign promises to respect the will of the voters in states that have elected to pursue alternative regulatory schemes for cannabis.
Said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri: “Trump’s nomination of Senator Sessions for the position of Attorney General should send a chill down the spine of the majority of Americans who support marijuana law reform, and who respect the will of voters to enact regulatory alternatives to cannabis prohibition. Senator Sessions is a militant marijuana prohibitionist who believes that ³good people don¹t smoke marijuana.(source) This archaic mentality is not what we need from our nation¹s Attorney General and we must put pressure on President-Elect Trump to ensure that Sessions upholds Trump’s campaign promise to not interfere with state marijuana laws.”
Said NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano: “Trump ascended to the Presidency by tapping into the divide between the views of ordinary voters and the policies espoused by Washington. One of the issues where this greatest divide exists is on the subject of marijuana policy, as evidence by the fact now more than half the country lives in jurisdictions that have legalized marijuana in some manner. Unfortunately, the appointment of Sen. Sessions — a longtime anti-marijuana zealot — will simply accentuate this divide and cost Washington, DC further respect and credibility with the ordinary American voter.”
Senator Sessions received a failing grade from NORML¹s 2016 Congressional Report Card, released this past fall.
Drug Policy Alliance:
Several outlets reported this morning that Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) has been selected by Donald Trump to be the next Attorney General.
“Jeff Sessions is a drug war dinosaur, which is the last thing the nation needs now,” said Ethan Nadelmann. “Those who counted on Donald Trump’s reassurance that marijuana reforms ‘should be a state issue’ will be sorely disappointed. And not just Democrats but the many Republicans as well who favor rolling back the war on drugs had better resist this nomination.”
Sessions, who once said that the Ku Klux Klan was, “OK, until he learned that they smoked marijuana,” has a track record of opposition to marijuana reform. Earlier this year, Sessions spoke out against marijuana legalization in a Senate hearing, and urged the government to send the message to the public that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.” He has also said in a separate hearing that marijuana cannot be safer than alcohol because, “Lady Gaga says she’s addicted to it and it is not harmless.” He is likely to use his power as Attorney General to close down state-legal marijuana and medical marijuana programs.
Sessions is also a proponent of harsh sentences for drug offenses. Sessions was the chief opponent of recent bipartisan efforts to reduce sentences for drug offenses, demagoguing that, “this proposal would provide for leniency for illegal alien drug traffickers,” and voting against the bill in the Judiciary Committee.
“Donald Trump’s decision heralds a return to the worst days of the drug war,” said Bill Piper, Senior Director of Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of National Affairs. “Trump promised to ‘drain the swamp’ but he’s gone to the very bottom of the drug war barrel for this pick.”
Sessions also criticized the Obama Administration’s attempts to reduce the prison population by encouraging U.S. Attorneys to use mandatory minimums only for high-level drug traffickers. It is likely that Sessions as Attorney General would push for harsher sentences and increase the prison population.
Sessions has to be confirmed by a majority of the Senate Judiciary Committee – on which he currently sits – as well as on the Senate floor. In 1986 Sessions served as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama and was nominated to be a federal judge by President Ronald Reagan – an even less prominent position than Attorney General – and he was rejected by a Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee for his racist views. He was only the second person in 50 years to be rejected, with the late Senator Ted Kennedy commenting that it was “inconceivable … that a person of this attitude is qualified to be a U.S. attorney, let alone a United States federal judge.”
The Drug Policy Alliance is mobilizing their members to fight back and oppose Senator Sessions for Attorney General.
image via NBC News