Where Jeff Sessions’ Successor Stands On Marijuana Policy | Marijuana

Where Jeff Sessions’ Successor Stands On Marijuana Policy


Anti-marijuana U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions tendered his resignation Nov. 7, 2018, one day after Republicans lost control of the House.

That left cannabis policy observers scrambling to find out where the temporary replacement at the top of the Department of Justice, Sessions’ Chief of Staff Matthew Whitaker, stands on marijuana.

Here’s what Marijuana Moment found in our initial review

During a 2014 primary debate for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination from Iowa, Whitaker sympathized with patients who benefit from marijuana ingredient cannabidiol (CBD). But, he also voiced concerns about the disconnect between state legalization efforts and the enforcement of federal law under the Obama administration.

During the debate hosted by Iowa Public Television, he was asked about the state’s recent passage of a CBD-only medical cannabis law.

“First of all, I know a couple of families that are going to be positively impacted by what has happened in the state senate today,” he said. “And I applaud them for helping those families who need that help.”

Whitaker then turned to the Justice Department’s marijuana policy under President Barack Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder.

“But what we have is we have an attorney general that is telling state attorney generals [sic], ‘if you disagree with a law, you don’t have to enforce it.’ And I am gravely concerned that we are now going to go back and forth between who’s in the White House and what their drug enforcement policy is, and you’ll see under what we have now — where you have Colorado and other states legalizing it really with no federal interference — and then when we come back, we may have a different regulatory scheme.”

Well, then, what should Congress do to resolve those differences?

“I think Congress should regulate things that harm people, and that is the hard drugs and the like that dramatically hurt citizens, cause violent crime in our communities, and those should be regulated,” he said.

“But not marijuana?” the debate moderator asked.

“For me, I saw the impact of marijuana on our border,” he said, presumably referring to his time as a U.S. attorney. “And if you go to any of the counties in Texas where there’s an illegal importation of marijuana, there’s a tremendous amount of violence.”

Marijuana reform advocates have generally applauded the announcement of Sessions’ resignation, as the now former attorney general has a long history of demeaning cannabis consumers, disregarding research about the benefits of medical marijuana and upholding federal prohibition.

“Attorney General Jefferson Sessions was a national disgrace, NORML hopes he finds the time during his retirement to seek treatment for his affliction of 1950’s reefer madness,” NORML executive director Erik Altieri said in a press release.

Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon called the move a “major step forward for marijuana reform,” also noting that Republican Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas, who has obstructed votes on marijuana-related legislation as chair of the House Rules Committee, was defeated in Tuesday’s midterm elections. The two are not related despite sharing the same last name and a disdain for cannabis.

However, there’s also an argument to be made that Jeff Sessions’ departure from the office could ultimately pose threats to the legal cannabis movement. Sessions and President Donald Trump have had a contentious relationship almost from the start of the administration, and the attorney general’s reluctance to crack down on legal cannabis states could theoretically be attributed, in part, to that dynamic. The next attorney general could enjoy some more flexibility when it comes to enforcing federal marijuana laws.

For his part, Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado tweeted Nov. 7, 2018, that he’s looking forward to “continuing to work with the president to fulfill his campaign position to leave the regulation of marijuana to the states.”

Trump has already said he’s actively pursuing a permanent replacement for Sessions, so it’s unclear what, if anything, Whitaker could achieve during his temporary stint as acting attorney general, or how long his tenure will last.

This article has been republished from Marijuana Moment under a content syndication agreement. Read the original article here.

Feature Image: U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, who is now President Donald Trump’s chief of staff, attend the 29th annual Candlelight Vigil on May 13, 2017, in honor of law enforcement personnel killed in the line of duty. Trump fired Sessions from his attorney general post Nov. 7, 2018, one day after Democrats retook the House of Representatives on Election Day. (Photo by Shane T. McCoy / U.S. Marshals Service via its Office of Public Affairs Flickr account; used with a Creative Commons 2.0 license)

About Author


  1. Trump appointed Jeff Sessions. Let’s not gloss over that fact.
    Trump is a prohibitionist who will lie and say he isn’t. As long as Trump has power, the marijuana community is in serious jeopardy.
    Jeff Sessions is a perjurer, a white supremacist, and a suppressor of votes, and he is a monster who snatches children from parents and puts the children in cages. Jeff Sessions thinks that is good policy.
    For all that, Traitor Trump’s beef with Sessions is that HE IS NOT CRIMINAL ENOUGH!!
    Jefferson Peckerwood Sessions is an immoral asshole, but he went to law school; and in some primitive, Pavlovian fashion, he still respects the rule of law, even as he violates it.
    Well! Traitor Trump IS NOT HAVING IT!!
    ABSOLUTE LOYALTY is what Trump wants in an AG, and he will accept nothing less. Jeff Sessions put another God before Trump, and he burned for it.
    Listen: The Problem here isn’t Jeff Sessions, its Trump.
    Take away one corrupt and criminal AG from Trump, and he will simply shit out another one!!
    Traitor Trump has got to go.

  2. Trump is a con man playing a shell game with AG’s here. It doesn’t matter which shell you are looking at so long as the con man controls the pea. Likewise, it doesn’t matter what any of Trump’s AG’s thinks about drug policy. They are all under Trump’s control.
    And Trump HATES drug users. He favors the death penalty. Like his buddy Duterte, drug war butcher of the Philippines!

  3. If I were a bettin’ man I’d bet that the president will agree to legalize at the Federal level, he also knows he has to work with the Dems who have the House. Yet there’s a reason I’m not a bettin’ man, sometimes my luck runs out.

    • Ancient James,
      I will take that bet.
      No need to make a wager; my ass is on the line here, as is yours as well, presumably. There’s our stakes.
      A few ground rules: fascism doesn’t count! Faux-legalization under a banana republic, like marijuana now being smoked in North Korea, doesn’t count. Patchwork of so-called “states rights”, where white men in Colorado get rich while black men and women in Mississippi and Missouri go to jail, doesn’t count either. Everyone must be free.
      Senator Schumer has set the bar with The Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, which REMOVES cannabis from the controlled substances list completely. I would love to see the Republicans get on board with that, but they are not going to do that, because they are marijuana prohibitionists. Duh!!
      Notice that all the co-sponsors are Democrats. Not one single Republican is on board!!
      …And you want to bet on Trump? Try the lottery, it’s safer!!

      • We don’t know if any Republican was approached to cosponsor, but if anyone of either party votes against such a Bill, their name will surely appear on the ‘wall of shame’ , so to speak. Agreed?

        Regarding ‘states rights’, Americans at least can ‘vote with their feet’. Many people don’t know that in many European democracies, for example, one needs permission to reside in their city or town.

          • I believe the sponsors and co sponsors are the ones who actually bring the Bill before the Senate. Sometimes others who announce support later are also called co sponsors. Republicans announcing support of this particular Bill would be a good idea… we can agree. And I’ve convinced myself that we are both right.

  4. Of course the violence on the border is due to the criminal Status corruptly assigned to Cannabis by the harmful Cannabis prohibition laws. No violence in the whiskey business now, but of course there was violence all during alcohol prohibition. The violence stems from criminalizing victimless lifestyle choices.

Leave A Reply