Marijuana

Jeff Sessions Provides More Evidence That He Plans a Marijuana Crackdown

The attorney general ties legalization to violence, interstate smuggling, underage consumption, and health hazards.

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C-SPAN

In comments to reporters yesterday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions provided more reason to worry that a crackdown on state-licensed marijuana businesses is in the offing. "I'm definitely not a fan of expanded use of marijuana," said Sessions, an old-fashioned drug warrior who thinks "good people don't smoke marijuana." While states "can pass the laws they choose," he added, "I would just say it does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not."

Sessions gave little indication of the extent to which he plans to enforce that law, except to say that "we're going to look at it…and try to adopt responsible policies." But he expressed sympathy for states such as Nebraska that complain about an influx of marijuana from states where it is legal and worried about rising potency. "Current levels of THC in marijuana are very high compared to what they were a few years ago, and we're seeing real violence around that," he said. "Experts are telling me there's more violence around marijuana than one would think, and there's big money involved."

While it sounded like Sessions was harking back to Harry Anslinger's "reefer madness" campaign against marijuana by blaming violence on the pharmacological effects of super-potent pot, it seems the attorney general is more worried about the "big money involved" in the marijuana trade. "You can't sue somebody for a drug debt," he said. "The only way to get your money is through strong-arm tactics, and violence tends to follow that."

If Sessions' main concern is the violence that occurs when marijuana suppliers have no legal way to resolve disputes, of course, he should welcome the peace brought by legalization. "By talking about marijuana and violence," observes Marijuana Majority Chairman Tom Angell, "the attorney general is inadvertently articulating the strongest argument that exists for legalization, which is that it allows regulated markets in a way that prohibition does not. The only connection between marijuana and violence is the one that exists when illegal sellers battle it out for profits in the black market."

Assuming that Sessions' plans include "greater enforcement" of the federal ban on marijuana, as White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer suggested last week, it could take several forms. Sessions could easily disavow the Justice Department's policy of prosecutorial forbearance, which was laid out in a 2013 memo from James Cole, then the deputy attorney general. But even without renouncing the Cole memo, Sessions could seriously disrupt or cripple the cannabis industry in states such as Colorado and Washington by taking a broader view of the federal "enforcement priorities" Cole listed.

Those priorities include preventing violence and interstate smuggling, both issues that Sessions raised yesterday. The priorities also include preventing distribution to minors and minimizing "adverse public health consequences related to marijuana use," a potentially unlimited license for federal meddling. Yesterday Sessions also alluded to those rationales for intervention. "Most of you probably know I don't think America is going to be a better place when more people of all ages, and particularly young people, start smoking pot," he said. "I believe it's an unhealthy practice."

During his confirmation hearing last month, Sessions conceded that enforcing the federal ban on marijuana is "a problem of resources for the federal government" and said "some" of Cole's criteria "are truly valuable in evaluating cases." But he added that "the criticism I think that was legitimate is that they may not have been followed." In fact, that was the theme of the April 2016 Senate hearing at which Sessions said "the Department of Justice needs to be clear" that "marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized." The title of the hearing, which was held by the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, asked, "Is the Department of Justice Adequately Protecting the Public from the Impact of State Recreational Marijuana Legalization?" Sessions' answer clearly is no.

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  1. Ah yes. The party of small government. The party that wants to just let people live their lives. The party that supports state’s rights. The party that deplores social engineering. Which party was that again?

    1. The same party that tried (oh, lord how they tried!) to repeal Obamacare. That is, until Obama was out of office.

      1. You can’t repeal Obamacare without repealing the community rating provision (i.e. ban on denying coverage of preexisting conditions).

        And that is going to be extremely politically dangerous because some very sick people would immediately lose their health insurance. The Dems/MSM would be licking their chops to parade out those sob stories.

        1. Sure you can.

          Let the market set the rate. If you think some “very sick people” will lose health insurance at those rates, subsidize their premiums. It’s not perfect, but it’s probably better than pretending that what’s essentially welfare already is insurance.

        2. “And that is going to be extremely politically dangerous . . .”

          And there you have it.

        3. Actually, that’s not quite what community rating is. Community rating states that insurers in a given geographical area charge everyone the same premium. Pre-existing conditions are only a part of that.

      2. Need to start primarying more of the GOP leadership. It worked on Cantor. Need to get rid of Ryan, and most of the current leadership.

    2. How is his position any different in practice from Obama/Holder’s?

      Thus far it’s just a bunch of rhetoric.

      1. Does claiming that it’s just rhetoric really make you feel any better? Sessions’ beliefs are not “just rhetoric”. He is going to crack down on marijuana legalization if it is at all possible. It’s just my hope that the administration sees that it would be very messy.

        1. All congress needs to do is pass legislation that federally legitimizes any state laws regarding MJ within that state’s borders. Problem solved. Given that there are several states where recreational pot is legal, I would imagine there are plenty of potential sponsors for such a bill.

          1. “All congress needs to do is pass legislation…”

            Yeah, you can stop right there. I keep hearing about all these bills being introduced in Congress that would legalize MJ, exempt MJ from federal enforcement, move MJ out of Schedule 1, etc. But after that, we never hear about these bills again. I guess they enter the Committee Dead Zone where they get circular-filed, because the majority of these committee members have drugwarboners.

            I would love to see any kind of progress towards ending this legal travesty of criminalized MJ, but I’m now in the “I’ll believe it when I see it” phase.

      2. No difference from Obama and Holder in Obama’s first term.

        In the second term:

        Obama admitted that cannabis was no less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco. Neither him or Holder attempted to role back legalization when they realized that the Democrats needed Colorado electorally, and that a sufficient number of their base supports legalization so its probably not a good idea to try and roll it back. And also the Cole Memo and the memo allowing for Native Americans to decide their own cannabis policy in the Indian reservations.

        So maybe if Michigan, Ohio, or Wisconsin legalize next year or in 2020 Trump and Sessions will have a similar change of heart.

    3. The Libertarian Party? It’s sure as hell not the Republicunts or the Demcraps.

    4. You are suggesting we should just ignore our laws?

      If we do this then what laws do we get to ignore?

      If I decide that the prohibition against murder is silly and should be allowed to shot Democrats do you think I should just start shooting?

      Or

      Maybe we should have the Prohibition against Dope and the other fun drugs removed?

  2. “Most of you probably know I don’t think America is going to be a better place when more people of all ages, and particularly young people, start smoking pot,” he said. “I believe it’s an unhealthy practice.”

    What other unhealthy practices would Mr. Sessions like to ban nationally under threat of imprisonment? Drinking alcohol? Jay walking? Being overweight? Watching too much TV? How far is he willing to take his nannying?

    1. In seriousness, he is also vastly opposed to any kind of internet gambling and has vowed to crackdown. Don’t know how much power he has to truly affect, but I foresee daily fantasy being in his crosshairs.

      1. I’ll give up my daily fantasy when he pries my cold dead hands from it.

      2. I foresee daily fantasy being in his crosshairs.

        I almost hope he’s stupid enough to try it.

  3. Most of you probably know I don’t think America is going to be a better place when more people of all ages, and particularly young people, start drinking beer,” he said. “I believe it’s an unhealthy practice.”


    “Most of you probably know I don’t think America is going to be a better place when more people of all ages, and particularly young people, start smoking cigarettes,” he said. “I believe it’s an unhealthy practice.”


    “Most of you probably know I don’t think America is going to be a better place when more people of all ages, and particularly young people, start huffing jenkem,” he said. “I believe it’s an unhealthy practice.”


    “Most of you probably know I don’t think America is going to be a better place when more people of all ages, and particularly young people, start swallowing the occasional sewing needle,” he said. “I believe it’s an unhealthy practice.”


    “Most of you probably know I don’t think America is going to be a better place when more people of all ages, and particularly young people, start engaging in fetish self-amputation,” he said. “I believe it’s an unhealthy practice.”

    DERRRRPPP! But mostly, you gutless cunts in Congress, and all the intellectually-bankrupt sadistic fucks at DEA, deserve the ridicule.

  4. It will be up to GOP governors in individual states to convince their fellow small government Republicans the value of states’ rights.

    1. “Fellow small government Republicans”. All two of them.

  5. I knew it was gonna be a long four years when “libertarian-leaning” Republican Senators voted lockstep to confirm this jackass.

    1. Shame on you, Rand Paul.

      Why, oh why?

      1. Go team Red

      2. But the Democrats were not nice to Sessions!

        Can’t allow a senator to criticize an Attorney General candidate.

  6. The attorney ties legalization to violence, interstate smuggling, underage consumption, and health hazards.

    The irony is that all of these things are actually attributed to making it illegal. Black markets are a hell of a thing.

    1. When you have state level bans that trample on people’s rights, interstate smuggling (aka “markets”) fixes the problem.

    2. Mostly true, though underage consumption happens with legal drugs too.

      1. The first year pot was legalized in Colorado, teenage use went up. Since then it’s gone down and is currently below the pre-legalization rate.

  7. What an asshole.

    Also, here we go again.

  8. Prohibition is state-sanctioned violence. It’s kidnapping, theft, and torture. Sessions belongs in prison with the other violent criminals.

    1. No, he deserves the exact same punishment he endorsed for drug users, the death penalty.

    2. Somebody please tell Sessions that his position on marijuana is the exact same position Los Zetas, La Familia, Knights Templar, the Sinaloa cartel, the Juarez cartel, Beltran Leyva, Jalisco Nueva Generacion, Guerreros Unidos, Los Rojos, Los Granados, and the Tijuana cartel have on the issue – – they all want to keep prohibition alive. Let me state that again: their collective position on this issue is in lockstep with one another. They see eye to eye. They are on the same page. Mr. Sessions, how much money have you taken under the table from the Sinaloa cartel?

      1. I can’t a clip of this bit, but there’s a brilliant part of “Key Largo” where one of Edward G Robinson’s gunsels opines that they’ll get Prohibition back any day now, thereby providing gangs like his the chance to make gobs more money.

  9. Sessions and Clinton have the same opinion on how black markets work

  10. Sessions is a scumbag grandstanding politician, but the feds don’t have the manpower to enforce the CSA without state and local help.

    Obama and his DOJ were not fans of MJ legalization either, they were just quieter about accepting reality.

    1. the feds don’t have the manpower to enforce the CSA without state and local help.

      Nothing that MOAR SPENDING couldn’t fix.

  11. Congress makes the laws, and we keep re-electing all of them.

  12. “”Most of you probably know I don’t think…”

    All of the quote this article needed. Yes, Jeff, we all know you are vastly incapable of logical, rational thought.

  13. I’d like to add to all of the thoughtful, well-reasoned, articulate comments here… fuck this asshole!

    1. Be our guest!

    2. Not even with Hillary’s strap-on.

  14. Dear White People at Reason:

    Why don’t you act like fucking journalists instead of pants-shitting pansies and INSTEAD OF POINTLESS SPECULATION maybe comment on what Sessions actually, y’know, DOES….

    This is why your commenters have deserted in DROVES…
    Maybe listen to Micheal Crichton…

    http://larvatus.com/michael-cr…..speculate/

    1. Um…unforeseen consequences. If we don’t speculate, how could they be foreseen?

      Speculation has a role. What’s missing is accountability about prior speculation. If every day I predict that the stock market will fall 10%, some day it will and I can claim to be right, glossing over my 99% error rate.

    2. So, what is Sessions actually doing? Making America great again?

    3. Well, he did make comments on the subject yesterday.

      This seems like a really odd complaint. Maybe it would work better with more words in all caps.

    4. Because his history as an unrepentant drug warrior and his recent rhetoric on the subject are an indicator of the policies he’s likely to pursue, and by speculating on it we at least have an idea of what he’s likely to do so that we’re not taken by surprise when the unreformed drug warrior acts like an unreformed drug drug warrior. Also, bu your “logic” reason shouldn’t have speculated on what the ACA was going to do until after it was passed and went into effect. Who wants cake?

      1. Buhahahahahahaha!!

    5. Yes – – don’t comment on SPECULATION that Obama may institute socialized health care and maybe comment on what Obama actually, y’know, DOES….

  15. The perpetual inability of conservatives to formulate the conceptual framework for a logic-based existence in the modern political world will result in the crushing of their fucking bodies into bloody pulp smears under the plundering careening hysteria that is Marxist postmodernism on its fiery campaigns into the next goddamn collectivist serfdom.

    Conservatism is feeble and its political mysticism derived from vaporous ideology potions and scriptures irrelevant to optimal governance…. so, in steps the fevered yapping pitch of collectivist existentialism, liquid in its high-strung and violent emotionalism while devoid of genuine intelligence.

    Capitalism is only ever-slightly embraced by the government-adoring political right-winger. Capitalism unfurls the greatest synergy available to human evolution which is optimized collaborations between producer/consumer. Marijuana is desired, producers manufacture, the government provides security to both, the growth of society becomes inevitable.

    Fuck the insidious injection of onerous governance into the mixtures of social mores.

    1. I’m shocked! Shocked I tell you, that a flexible automaton is against the drug war!

      Right arm, bruddah!!

    2. An daylight Agile Cyborg sighting?

      Nice.

    3. Yeah, but this prose is seriously purple. Ease back on the stick, I say.

      1. It just gives him away. He’s unbelievable.

        (But he’s right, though.)

  16. “I believe it’s an unhealthy practice.”

    Well, Jeff, a lotta guys believe ‘believing it’s an unhealthy practice’ is an unhealthy practice.

  17. Roll Tide.

  18. “I would just say it does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not.”

    Blowhard. How many times has the government violated the constitution? But that doesn’t seem to matter to a statist like this dinosaur, perhaps Sessions should focus on reining in the Feds.

    “You can’t sue somebody for a drug debt,” he said. “The only way to get your money is through strong-arm tactics, and violence tends to follow that.”

    Seriously dude, then legalize the shit.

    1. Seriously. If the federal government just changed the law so that cannabis businesses could use banks, much of the related violence in places where it’s legalized would go away as there wouldn’t be so many huge piles of cash to deal with.

      How many times has the government violated the constitution?

      Millions, I’m sure.

  19. During the depression people didn’t like marijauna because Mexican smoked it and they were ta king jobs. The timber industry got hemp banned because it was cutting into their profits. Now Jeff Sessions is about to bring an end to America as we know it. The majority of people in this country support pot legalization. The states that have voted for legalization have a ready made majority to vote Succession if the feds try to crack down on pot in those States. Jeff Sessions needs to go back to Alabama slip on his white robe and rule over a state that may support his racist neo fact beliefs.

  20. I have never smoked or otherwise used marijuana or any other illegal drug in my life. (Yes, I’m boring. Deal.) I visit Colorado for a week of skiing every year, including every year since legalization. The only noticeable effect is that their roads are in great shape and all the rural schools have new buildings. The state is rolling (yuk yuk yuk) in dough right now. Heck, Crested Butte, our favorite ski destination, has three dispensaries for MMJ and one or two recreational dealers, but no Walgreens. (Something they’re very proud of, by the way.). There is also little crime and an abundance of lovely things not normally found in towns of less than 5,000 people like lots of free wifi. Church groups from Texas and Oklahoma still invade the place for spring break, without any noticeable harm to their students. Of all the many horrible things the Trump administration has promised, this is one of the worst and one of the stupidest.

    1. Non-marijuana user here…and Trump supporter. I couldn’t agree more.

  21. We should want an attorney general that aggressively enforces the federal laws that Congress has enacted.
    We should want States to aggressively defend their rights against Federal overreach.
    We should want a Congress to enact responsible federal laws that respect the freedom of people and States and the SCOTUS to responsibly review them for constitutionality.

    Sessions isn’t the problem. The whole system is effed up with teenager-like mentality that looks to whine, cheat, and manipulate the system. Congress doesn’t do it’s job, States want free money without responsibility, and SCOTUS is so politicized any judgement is a crap shoot.

  22. Jeff Sessions – as a lawyer you know or should know that for a law to be just it MUST be justified.

    That justification for a law resides in the Law of the Land known as the US Constitution.

    So show me in the US Constitution where it states that the federal government has the authority for the so called war on drugs .

    Show it to me sir, for in my copy of the US Constitution, there is no such authority.

    In fact sir, most of the federal government is NOT authorized by the US Constitution.

    And sir, since you are the so called Attorney General of the US Government, you sir, should be shutting down said parts of the federal government that are NOT in compliance with the US Constitution.

    Get to it! You have a lot of work to do!!!

    1. Apparently he doesn’t. One would think that,in terms of priority, he’d be using his time cleaning up the mess the previous administration left behind,bad law-wise, rather than indulging in another tail-chasing”crackdown” on a drug people are deriving a great deal of benefit from and with no societal detriment other than sucking our tax dollars into yet another black hole of futility by attempting to enforce the idiotic penalization of its users. The way we’re dealing with this “problem” only drives the street value up and increaes crime and blight. How bad would it be,really, if people could decide for themselves whether they prefer to go to a liquor store or a marijuana shop?

  23. At least he is not Hillary

    1. Still a tyrant and will be dealt with as a tyrant.

  24. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is not only greatly programmed to his detriment, but also delusional if he thinks that the continued prohibition of the valuable plant, Cannabis, is a good thing to do. This plant is one of the most valued plants on the planet, not only for it’s unique curative powers, but in the case of Hemp it’s multi purpose uses and a great boon to mankind. Sessions, needs to do more research into what is actually taking place in the states that have legalized Cannabis instead of just relying on his own narrow and biased opinion. Those who use Cannabis that is high in THC should be regulated as any substance such as alcohol is. But, for those who use Cannabis that is high in CBD, with low or negligible THC; there don’t need to be any laws enacted against this strain. The ridiculous negative propaganda wheel, about this beneficial plant, that has been going on for the past 70 years, needs to stop!

  25. He reminds of someone’s old, senile, 100+ year-old great grampa that “tried a marijuana cigarette in 1941, and it gave him reefer madness”….

    1. There ya have it.

  26. Yes, they are on the same page. Mr. Sessions, how much money have you taken under the table from the Sinaloa cartel?

  27. Prohibition of marijuana is a premise built on a tissue of lies. Our new laws save hundreds of lives every year, on our highways alone. In the thirteen states that decriminalized marijuana between 1990 and 2009, traffic fatalities have dropped by nearly nine percent more than the national average, while sales of beer went flat by five percent.

    No one has ever died from an overdose of marijuana. It’s the most benign ‘substance’ in history, a neuroprotectant that actually encourages brain-cell growth. It also has tumor-shrinking, anti-carcinogenic properties, as confirmed by a study at UCLA.

    Marijuana is “cannabis” in Latin, and “kanah bosm” in the old Hebrew scrolls, quite literally the Biblical Tree of Life, used by early Christians to treat everything from skin diseases to deep pain and despair.

    ‘Christian’ politicians, prosecutors, and police who pose on church steps or kneeling in prayer on their campaign trails cannot or will not face the scientific or the historical truths about cannabis, Medicinal Herb Number One, safe and effective for thousands of years, and celebrated as sacraments by most of the world’s major religions.

    RE-legalize the Biblical Tree of Life.

    1. Right on. Their premises are based in ignorance, calcified thinking and a perennial propensity for politicizing everything from hairspray to handguns.

  28. The archaic federal laws regarding marijuana need to be repealed, forthwith. These fossils on BOTH sides of the aisle need to pull their heads out of their gin bottles and take a look at the real world–and stop basing their objections on “Reefer Madness.” All the time, manhours, and tax dollars spent on combating the Evil Weed would have been much better utilized on supplying the country with a lifetime supply of driveway wax, for all the good they’ve done.

    As a life-long Republican I think it’s high time [pun intended] these throwbacks stop beating this particular dead horse and move on to the real problems we have. Listening to them drone on about marijuana is a gateway drug, blah blah blah…it’s enough to drive a person to Colorado. Or someplace…

  29. A crackdown on pot would be the Trump administrations first genuine blunder. Everything else to this point has been mostly butt-hurt lamestream media nit-picking.

    Trump can score big points by going after criminal aliens and H-1B/L-1 visa abuse.

    He can score more points by leaving pot legalization to the states – pushing for repeal of federal drug laws.

  30. Little Midget DOUCHE BAG !

  31. When it comes to Marijuana, the old, fundamental christians in congress will never let go of the jim crow era marijuana demonizations. Sessions is one of the types who thinks that you’ll go to ‘hayell’ if you smoke pot or drink on sunday. So are most of his generation, unfortunately.

  32. Okay all this effort and speculation over pot just seems like a waste of time. It is illegal, change the law or find some other way to get high!

  33. Someone needs to take a good look at Sessions financiers.
    You can almost hear, Big Pharma, Private Prison, and Pro-Policing For Profit LEO sources screaming from his bank accounts.

  34. You can bet that after Trumps one term presidency the Republicans will never win a national election again.

  35. This is great news!

    Can you believe it?

    An Attorney General of the United States that is going to enforce the Rule of Law!

    I do believe all drugs should be legal but I also believe in the Rule of Law and as far as I am concerned in this case the Rule of Law should win out.

    I think the prohibition against dope needs to be removed not ignored.

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  37. It’s a little bemusing to see the current outcry over this when all through the campaign Trump spoke about tightening border security usually in the same breath as the scourge of drugs and cartels. I can’t have been the only one to notice this. As far as I could tell from his rhetoric, drug cartels operating over the border were as big a threat as terrorists sneaking in, etc. That was a sure signal a new War on Drugs was coming.

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  39. So President Trump drains the swamp but makes Swamp Thing the Atty. General. Isn’t that wonderful. “Only bad people smoke marijuana”, just like only bad people drink beer or walk their dog.

    Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

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