Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to advance the nomination of Jeff Sessions for Attorney General of the United States. The vote was 11 to 9, with no Democrats supporting the nominee. The nomination will now go to the Senate floor for a full and final vote.
“Jeff Sessions is a disaster for drug policy and criminal justice reform,” said Bill Piper, Senior Director for Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of National Affairs. “He is a nightmare for medical marijuana patients, and will destroy families and communities by amplifying the mass incarceration crisis.”
Sessions’ record is deeply concerning. In recent years, 28 states have legalized marijuana for medical use (including nine states represented by members of the Judiciary Committee). An additional 16 states, including six states represented by members of the Judiciary Committee, have legalized CBD oils, a non-psychotropic component of marijuana that has shown effectiveness in managing epileptic seizures that afflict children. Additionally, people who use marijuana in Louisiana with a doctor’s recommendation are protected from arrest. Eight states have voted to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana like alcohol, including California.
Jeff Sessions has said “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” disparaging the tens of millions of Americans who have used marijuana, including the last three presidents. He has criticized the Justice Department’s guidance respecting state marijuana laws, and even opposes marijuana for medical use. If confirmed as Attorney General Sessions could increase marijuana arrests and prosecutions, threaten state officials, and undermine the ability of local agencies to regulate marijuana. In a recent article in the Hill, former Department of Justice officials and Session allies said states that voted to legalize marijuana “may be in for a reckoning.”
Sessions was the chief opponent of 2016 bipartisan efforts to reduce sentences for drug offenses, voting against the bill in committee. Sessions has also been critical of the Obama Justice Department’s guidelines around sentencing that were designed to limit harsh sentencing and reserve mandatory minimums for major offenders. He opposes “any” reform of civil asset forfeiture, a process that allows government agencies to seize money and property without having to charge anyone with a crime.
The Drug Policy Alliance has created a digital campaign to put the brakes on Alabama Republican Senator Jeff Sessions’ nomination for Attorney General. The Drug Policy Alliance campaign includes a video launched on The Root that exposes Jeff Sessions’ appalling record on drug policy, civil and human rights, and criminal justice reform.
The Drug Policy Alliance video, created by award-winning filmmaker dream hampton, alternates between archival media footage of Jeff Sessions’ troubling racist words and actions, and DPA staff and allies talking about what Sessions would mean for drug policy and criminal justice. The video ends with a call to action asking people to call their Senators to reject Session for Attorney General.
Recently, the Drug Policy Alliance organized a teleconference for reporters to discuss Sessions’ record on civil and human rights, criminal justice reform, and drug policy. Representatives from LatinoJustice, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Council on American Islamic Relations, Cato Institute, the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference and the Drug Policy Alliance expressed their concerns about Sessions.
“Senators should reject Jeff Sessions on the floor,” Piper said. “He must be stopped before he causes irreparable damage to our country.”