Alabama Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III has provided more than a little consternation within the marijuana community since being tapped for United States Atty. Gen. Nominated to rule as the highest law enforcement officer and chief lawyer for the United States Government, Sen. Sessions has a rather dubious record when it comes to cannabis. Already infamous for his KKK/Pot comment, last April the Alabama Republican uttered another insightful observation regarding his feelings for marijuana consumers: “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.”
The nominee for United States Atty. Gen. was recently grilled by his fellow senators on the Judiciary Committee. Drilling down on his views regarding the federal government and how it might handle marijuana going forward, Tom Angell of the Marijuana Majority compiled the senator’s answers:
- “While I am generally familiar with the Cole memorandum, I am not privy to any internal Department of Justice data regarding the effectiveness and value of the policies contained within that memorandum… I will certainly review and evaluate those policies, including the original justifications for the memorandum, as well as any relevant data and how circumstances may have changed or how they may change in the future.”
- “I will not commit to never enforcing Federal law. Whether an arrest and investigation of an individual who may be violating the law is appropriate is a determination made in individual cases based on the sometimes unique circumstances surrounding those cases, as well as the resources available at the time.”
- A recent federal court ruling that a Congressional rider prevents the Justice Department from going after people complying with state medical marijuana laws “is relatively recent, and I am not familiar with how other courts may have interpreted the relevant appropriations language or the Ninth Circuit’s opinion. As an emerging issue, that is one that will need to be closely evaluated in light of all relevant law and facts… I will conduct such a review. Of course, medical marijuana use is a small part of the growing commercial marijuana industry.”
- On “good people don’t smoke marijuana“: “My words have been grossly mischaracterized and taken out of context… I was discussing the value of treating people for using dangerous and illegal drugs like marijuana, and the context in which treatment is successful.”
- “I echo Attorney General Lynch’s comments [on marijuana being illegal], and commit, as she did, to enforcing federal law with respect to marijuana, although the exact balance of enforcement priorities is an ever-changing determination based on the circumstances and the resources available at the time.”
- “I will defer to the American Medical Association and the researchers at the National Institutes of Health and elsewhere about the medical effects of marijuana. Without having studied the relevant regulations in depth, I cannot say whether they may need to be eased in order to advance research; but, I will review this.”
According to The Hill, today’s Judiciary Committee vote was delayed by Senate Democrats who have requested more time to review their selection. “As we have done for most nominees…I’m asking that the vote for Senator Sessions be held over until next week, said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, leading Democrat of The Judiciary Committee. The committee will vote on the matter next week; their approval is a significant step toward a full Senate vote.
In the below YouTube video, Sen. Jeff Sessions speaks at an April 2016 hearing titled “Is the Department of Justice Adequately Protecting the Public from the Impact of State Recreational Marijuana Legalization?” If nothing else, this video provides further insight into Sessions’ attitude towards legalization.
Photo courtesy of the Denver Post