Donald Trump has picked Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions to be his attorney general. And cannabis activists are already worried. That’s because Sessions has built a reputation as a hyper-conservative, anti-cannabis politician.
An Introduction To Jeff Sessions
So who exactly is Jeff Sessions? Here’s a quick rundown. Along the way, we’ll highlight his views on cannabis.
Back in 1986 Sessions was a U.S. prosecutor in Alabama. Ronald Reagan wanted him to become a federal judge. But the Senate Judiciary Committee rejected that idea.
That decision came after Sessions made racially charged comments. He also came under fire for actions that many considered racist.
During this time, Sessions called civil rights groups “un-American” and “Communist-inspired.” And an African-American federal prosecutor said Sessions called him “boy.”
At one point, Sessions said that the KKK was fine “until I found out they smoked pot.” He later said that was a joke. Not surprisingly, very few people found it very funny.
And more recently, he’s been strongly opposed to immigration reforms. He also opposes efforts to reduce mandatory minimum prison sentences. And throughout it all, he’s been strongly opposed to cannabis legalization.
Jeff Sessions On Cannabis
This past April, Sessions spoke at a hearing on state marijuana laws. He said that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.”
He went to say, “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.”
Sessions regularly argues that cannabis is a gateway to more dangerous drugs. “It is false that marijuana use doesn’t lead people to more drug use,” he said. “It is already causing a disturbance in the states that made it legal. I think we need to be careful about this.”
Sessions also fights against states’ rights to make their own cannabis laws. And he’s a big fan of the federal war on drugs.
“[Legalizing cannabis] is a mistake,” he said. “We have seen that experiment before. Lives are at stake.”
“The federal government led the way with tough sentencing, eliminating parole, targeting dangerous drugs in effective ways, and states and local governments followed.”
How Will This Affect The Future Of Cannabis?
This appointment comes at a crucial time for cannabis. During last week’s elections, eight out of nine states approved more liberal marijuana laws.
The elections dramatically changed things. Now, 1 in 5 Americans has access to some form of legal cannabis.
All this reflects huge popular support of marijuana. Recent polls found that 89% of Americans support medical cannabis. And 54% are in favor of recreational use.
Despite all this, there are still some big questions. Especially about how Trump will handle cannabis.
Throughout his campaign, he said he supports medical marijuana. He also said he supports states’ rights to make their own laws. But picking Sessions for attorney general could undermine that support.
“While the choice certainly isn’t good news for marijuana reform,” said activist Tom Angell, “I’m still hopeful the new administration will realize that any crackdown . . . would create huge political problems.”