In October 2016, the Pew Research Center published a report indicating that 57% of U.S. adults say the use of marijuana, particularly for such medical purposes as treating nausea, chronic pain, depression and anxiety, should be made legal. The following month, as a result of state ballot initiatives receiving sufficient votes, Alaska, California, Colorado, Oregon, Massachusetts, Nevada and Washington decided to legalize the recreational use of cannabis. However, Jeff Sessions, the Republican Senator from Alabama picked by President-elect Donald Trump to be Attorney General, is notorious for his primitive bigotry and conservative values. Therefore, his hard-line stance against marijuana comes as no surprise.
During a Senate hearing held in April 2016 regarding whether or not the United States Department of Justice was “adequately protecting the public from the impact of state recreational marijuana legalization,” Sessions lamented the Department of Justice’s 2013 decision not to challenge state laws allowing medical and recreational use of marijuana, provided that cannabis is not distributed to minors and that businesses dealing in the substance are not fronts for trafficking ops
“I can’t tell you how concerning it is for me, emotionally and personally, to see the possibility that we will reverse the progress that we’ve made. It was the prevention movement that really was so positive, and it led to this decline [of marijuana use among teens]. The creating of knowledge that this drug is dangerous, it cannot be played with, it is not funny, it’s not something to laugh about, and trying to send that message with clarity, that good people don’t smoke marijuana.”
Sessions also once stated in 1986 that he considered people in the KKK to be “O.K., until [I] learned that they smoked marijuana.”
It has become common knowledge that peer-reviewed scientific studies have proved that cannabis poses far less a risk to human health than substances like alcohol, tobacco, cocaine, heroin or amphetamines and also that drug laws in the United States were racially motivated from their inception, particularly as far as cannabis is concerned. Furthermore, the monetary effects of legalizing cannabis in Colorado and Washington are being felt at the federal level, as the tax revenues therefrom have far exceeded initial expectations. With all this in mind, the choice of Jeff Sessions for United States Attorney General is as mystifying as it is unsettling, as he has the jurisdiction to oversee federal prosecutions and order Drug Enforcement Agency shock troops to carry out raids.
According to Bill Piper, senior director for national affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance:
“He could raid and prosecute people for marijuana even in a state like New York where it is legal for medical use.”
In addition, although President-elect Donald Trump has previously stated that he favors the medical use of cannabis “100 percent” and feels that legalization is a states’ rights issue, Sessions could persuade Trump to reverse his position on the matter.