What An Attorney-General Sessions Would Mean For Marijuana
President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for attorney general thinks ‘good people don’t smoke marijuana’
America’s growing acceptance of marijuana may be reversed if Sen. Jeff Sessions is confirmed as attorney general, industry experts said Friday.
President-elect Donald Trump on Friday said he intends to nominate Sessions, a former prosecutor, as the next U.S. Attorney General.
Sessions is not a fan of marijuana, to say the least. Aaron Herzberg, general counsel at real estate focused marijuana company CalCann Holdings, said Sessions “is the worst pick that Trump could have picked.” Sessions has been critical of President Barack Obama and his administration’s approach to enforcing federal drug laws.
“Good people don’t smoke marijuana,” Sessions said during an April Senate hearing. “We need grown ups in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought not to be minimized, that it is in fact a very real danger.
“To make it socially acceptable creates increased demand and results in people being addicted and being impacted adversely.”
Further back, Sessions allegedly said he thought KKK members were okay until he learned they smoked marijuana. Sessions subsequently called that a joke.
While Trump has been supportive of medical marijuana legalization and open to full legalization in the past, Herzberg worries about Sessions’ open hostility toward the marijuana industry.
“It appears that he is intent on rolling back policy to the 1980’s Nancy Regan’s ‘just say no on drugs’ days,” Herzberg said in an email. “With the selection of Sessions as attorney general the legalization or marijuana both for medical in 28 states and recreational marijuana in eight states may be in serious jeopardy.”
Sessions, if confirmed, could put obstacles in the way of the four states — California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada — that voted to legalize recreational adult-use of marijuana. There’s also concern that he would lobby Congress to change the Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment, which prohibits the Justice Department from spending federal funds to enforce the federal prohibition laws in states where medical marijuana has been legalized. Alternatively he could look to the Cole Memo, written under former attorney general Eric Holder’s Justice Department, which says the federal government will not interfere with states that legalize recreational and, or medical marijuana, as long as they abide by a series of guidelines
Some in the industry are holding out hope that growing popularity and support of marijuana will be enough to shield it from Sessions rolling back legalization. An October Gallup poll had 60% of adult Americans in favor of marijuana legalization.
“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,” Marijuana Majority Chairman Tom Angell said via email. “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.”