U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday where he was grilled on a number of marijuana policy issues.
After first asking Sessions what the Department of Justice (DOJ) has done to mitigate voter suppression for America’s disenfranchised minorities, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) shifted his remaining five-minute opportunity to put Sessions on the proverbial “hot seat.”
To the delight of cannabis consumers across the country, Rep. Cohen asked Sessions to defend his infamous 2016 comment that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.”
“Is John Kasich a good person? George Pataki, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, George Bush, Arnold Schwarzenegger, or Judge Clarence Thomas — which of those are not good people?”
Sessions’ response to the question and list of political heavyweights who have been open about past marijuana use was less than direct.
“Let me tell you how that came about, Congressman. So the question was, ‘What do you do about drug use — the epidemic we’re seeing in the country — and how you reverse it?’ Part of that is a cultural thing. I explained how when I became United States Attorney in 1981 and the drugs were being used widely over a period years, it became unfashionable, unpopular … and it was seen as such that good people didn’t use marijuana. That was the context of that statement.”
A probing conversation, Rep. Cohen also asked Sessions for clarification on the DOJ’s proposed plan to crack down on marijuana.
Rep. Cohen: On marijuana, you said that you are basically doing the same as Holder and Lynch. I believe General Holder and General Lynch abided by congressional appropriations, which limited the Justice Department enforcing marijuana laws where states had passed laws on medical marijuana. Do you abide by congressional appropriations and limitations upon marijuana when they conflict with state laws?
Attorney General Sessions: I believe we are bound by that.
Rep. Cohen: Marijuana is not as dangerous as heroin, would you agree with that?
Attorney General Sessions: I think that’s correct.
Rep. Cohen: Well, thank you sir. I would hope that in your enforcement that you would look at the limitations you’ve got.
After the U.S. Representative for Tennessee’s 9th Congressional District got Sessions to testify under oath that marijuana is not as dangerous as heroin, Rep. Cohen made it abundantly clear — the DOJ would be better served by targeting dealers of crack cocaine, powder cocaine, methamphetamines, opioids, and heroin than spending its limited time and resources on marijuana.
In 2015, Rep. Cohen sent a letter to then-Attorney General Holder asking him to reschedule cannabis.
Photo courtesy of DonkeyHotey