Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions nomination to be the Donald Trump’s attorney general passed out of the Senate Judiciary along party lines today, setting up his vote before the full Senate. Senator Sessions has a long prohibitionist history, concerning most cannabis legalization supporters, while some are hopeful that his states’ rights credentials, and the policy promises of Trump, will prevent federal interference with state marijuana laws.
With fifty-two Republican senators, and only a simple majority required for cabinet nominees, it is hard to imagine Jeff Sessions not securing the votes to become our next attorney general. What next, then for the cannabis community? Soon, it will be imperative that you contact your Washington, D.C., representatives to join Dana Rohrabacher and Earl Blumenauer in passing their amendment that prohibits the federal government from using any federal funds to investigate, prosecute and imprison for marijuana offenses when they are complying with their own state laws. Congress has successfully passed the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment for medical cannabis, but we’ll need to pass it for recreational use as well.
Further, it will be good to know who the district attorneys are that are advising the Trump Administration on marijuana. It is great to see that Colorado DA Stan Garnett, a sensible voice on cannabis policy, is one of the prosecutors. If we can find out the other attorneys are, then their constituents can put political pressure on them to follow the will of the voters. There are certainly some hostile DAs advising Trump as some called for letters to states giving them 90 days to shut down their recreational and medical businesses-thankfully, Garnett helped shut down that horrible idea, for now, but we can expect those same DAs to have similar terrible proposals that must be stamped out immediately.
While the cannabis community and industry may suffer some setbacks and likely won’t advance as quickly as we should thanks to Jeff Sessions, we must remember how powerful we are politically. We don’t need to panic, but we do need to remain active and engaged to protect our political gains, but that is true no matter who sits in the White House or serves as attorney general.
Below is a press release from NORML on the the Senate Judiciary Committee advancing the nomination of Jeff Sessions:
Senate Judiciary Advances Marijuana Prohibitionist Jeff SessionsWashington, DC – Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the confirmation of Jeff Sessions to be the next US Attorney General on a party line vote of 11 to 9.
Sessions has a storied history of supporting marijuana prohibition, as NORML has well documented. This includes previously declaring that “good people do not smoke marijuana” and supporting legislation that would have allowed defendants to receive the death penalty if they had received multiple convictions for marijuana distribution.
“If the Senate approves Jeff Sessions as Attorney General they will be elevating a true believer in outdated reefer madness rhetoric to the highest law enforcement post in the land,” said Erik Altieri, Executive Director of NORML, “Until we have explicit confirmation from the Trump Administration or Senator Sessions himself that the federal government will not interfere with state marijuana laws, we are urging Senators to stand up for the will of the voters and the 60% of the country that supports legalization and ‘just say no’ to Sessions for Attorney General.”
“On a range of issues, Sen. Sessions would represent a return the bygone era of state repression against individuals rights. For marijuana in particular, in a day and age of legal dispensaries, it is troubling to see that a man who called for the execution of marijuana distributors become the nation’s top law enforcement officer. It is imperative that Congress move forward on protections for states that have reformed their approach to marijuana to protect them from a rogue Justice Department,” said Justin Strekal, Political Director for NORML.
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.