Marijuana legalization supporters have been anxiously waiting for the Donald Trump Administration to reveal its upcoming federal cannabis policy, and the new regime is one step closer to formulating its national strategy with the confirmation of Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions as attorney general. It is no secret that Sessions has a Reefer Madness prohibitionist history and that cannabis legalization advocates would have preferred a different pick.
The cannabis community has never been in a stronger position politically and economically. A strong majority of voters favor legalized marijuana and the industry is generating millions upon millions of dollars for the states that have ended prohibition within their borders. With four more states legalizing cannabis for all adults and two more allowing for medical use this past November, the future should be bright for the industry, but federal interference could throw a monkey wrench into our plans.
Some legalization groups have maintained a relatively neutral position on Sessions, hopeful that his states’ rights principles and his willingness to follow Donald Trump’s campaign promises would win the day. Other advocates have vehemently fought against Sessions’ nomination, feeling that he could not be trusted to follow the will of the voters who have chosen to legalize marijuana within their own borders.
Cannabis legalization supporters need to remain vigilant, but that would be the case regardless of who sits in the White House or serves as attorney general. However, with Sessions’ history it is more important than ever that the cannabis community remain engaged and actively support positive reforms that could render Sessions’ personal feelings relatively moot.
Below are statements released by the Drug Policy Alliance, Marijuana Policy Project and NORML regarding the confirmation of Jeff Sessions as attorney general:
It’s official. The Senate just confirmed Jeff Sessions as Attorney General.
DPA members and activists sent over 90,000 messages to the Senate and made thousands of phone calls in opposition to Sessions. Countless other human rights organizations stood against him as well.
But at the end of the day it wasn’t enough. The vote was 52 to 47, almost entirely along party lines. Every Republican senator supported Sessions, and every Democrat senator except Joe Manchin of West Virginia opposed him.
Sessions is an unrepentant drug war extremist, hell-bent on ramping up the racist war on drugs. Now with full control of the Justice Department, he is one of the most powerful people in the country.
Sessions will advocate to escalate deportations for simple drug possession. He can prosecute individuals and businesses in states where marijuana is legal. He can use his power and influence to block attempts at criminal justice reform. He is a threat to all we fight for.
The Drug Policy Alliance, and our network of members, activists and allies, will be standing against him every step of the way.
Anthony, if you’re not a sustaining member of our movement yet, please consider joining today. We need you by our side now more than ever as we fight any and all attempts to escalate the war on drugs.
A commitment of $25, $15, or even just $5 a month will go a long way in equipping us with the resources to fight for human rights against Sessions’ Justice Department.
Your support can make the difference between drug policies grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights, or those built on fears, prejudices and punitive prohibitions.
We have a long road ahead of us.
Senior Director of National Affairs
Drug Policy Alliance
Statement From the Marijuana Policy Project Regarding the Confirmation of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General
Nation’s largest marijuana policy organization remains cautiously optimistic that the Trump administration will refrain from using federal resources to interfere in state laws regulating marijuana for medical and adult use
WASHINGTON — The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) has issued the statement below regarding the Senate’s confirmation of Jeff Sessions as attorney general on Wednesday evening.
Sessions was asked about marijuana policy on multiple occasions during the confirmation process. During his oral testimony, he conspicuously refrained from committing to enforce federal marijuana prohibition laws in states that are regulating marijuana for medical and adult use, noting the scarcity of resources available. In his written testimony, he said he “echo[es]” the comments made by former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, when she was asked about marijuana enforcement during her confirmation hearing.
President Donald Trump has consistently said that he supports legal access to medical marijuana and believes states should be able to determine their own marijuana policies. During a January appearance on Fox News Channel, Trump spokesman Sean Spicer signaled that Sessions would adhere to Trump’s position that states should be able to establish their own marijuana policies. “When you come into a Trump administration, it’s the Trump agenda you’re implementing and not your own,” he said. ”I think Senator Sessions is well aware of that.”
Statement from MPP Director of Federal Policies Robert Capecchi:
“We remain cautiously optimistic that the Trump administration will refrain from interfering in state marijuana laws. When asked about his plans for marijuana enforcement, Attorney General Sessions said he ‘echo[es]’ the position taken by Loretta Lynch during her confirmation hearings. He repeatedly acknowledged the scarcity of enforcement resources, and he said he would ensure they are used as effectively as possible to stop illicit drugs from being trafficked into the country.
“President Trump has consistently said that states should be able to determine their own marijuana laws, and his spokesperson made it clear that the attorney general will be implementing the Trump agenda. We are hopeful that Mr. Sessions will follow the president’s lead and respect states’ rights on marijuana policy.
“A strong and growing majority of Americans think marijuana should be made legal, and an even stronger majority think the federal government should respect state marijuana laws. Eight states have adopted laws that regulate and tax marijuana for adult use, and 28 states now have laws that regulate marijuana for medical use. It would be shocking if the Trump administration attempted to steamroll the citizens and governments in these states to enforce an increasingly unpopular federal policy.”
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The Marijuana Policy Project is the nation’s largest marijuana policy organization. For more information, visit http://www.MarijuanaPolicy.org.
NORML Responds To Jeff Sessions Being Confirmed As Attorney GeneralWashington, DC: Despite historic opposition to a nominee for Attorney General, today Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions (R-AL) has been confirmed to assume the role of our nation’s top law enforcement official.
“Jeff Sessions’ views are out of step with mainstream America and they are in conflict with the laws regarding marijuana in over half of the states in this country. Our elected officials, now more than ever, know that marijuana policy is at the forefront of the minds of American voters and that we are willing and able to mobilize for it,” said Justin Strekal, Political Director for NORML, “We will never stop fighting for further marijuana reforms at the state level and much needed federal policy changes. With Americans throughout the country organizing and taking action, the fight for cannabis freedom will continue with renewed energy.”
Senator Sessions is a militant opponent of any efforts to reform marijuana policy who once notoriously remarked that the Ku Klux Klan “was okay until I found out they smoked pot.” He is a staunch proponent of the long-discredited ‘gateway theory,’ and has called on federal officials to return to the ‘Just Say No’ rhetoric of the 1980s.
In fact, he was one of only 16 US Senators to receive a failing grade from NORML in our 2016 Congressional Report Card because of statements including: “We need grown-ups in charge in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought not to be minimized, that it’s in fact a very real danger,” and ” cannot be played with, it is not funny, it’s not something to laugh about, and trying to send that message with clarity, that good people don’t smoke marijuana.”
NORML’s mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to legalize the responsible use of marijuana by adults, and to serve as an advocate for consumers to assure they have access to high quality marijuana that is safe, convenient and affordable.