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Jeff Sessions Can't Stop Pot Legalization: Podcast

The attorney general's new memo on marijuana is disturbing on many levels, but it will ultimately be effective on none.

Yesterday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed a 2013 Justice Department policy that worked to keep federal law enforcement from going after recreational and medical marijuana users and producers in states that have legalized pot.

That's just stupid policy from any number of perspectives: A growing majority of Americans believe pot should be treated like wine and alcohol. States that have legalized have witnessed no negative social effects and teen pot use is even declining. President Trump campaigned on the promise that marijuana policy should be decided at the state level, a position fully consistent with federalism Sessions himself pretends to espouse. California and Nevada just started selling legal weed and Massachusetts is set to follow suit later in 2018. It's clear the war on pot is over and the prohibitionists have lost.

But if Sessions can't really stop legalization, says Reason Senior Editor Jacob Sullum, he can slow it down and make it more painful and disruptive than it needs to be. In a fun, freewheeling conversation about pot, politics, and posturing, Sullum, the author of the groundbreaking Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use, talks with Nick Gillespie about what red state (besides Alaska) will be the first to legalize pot, what should happen to people behind bars for crimes that are no longer crimes, and how cannabis culture will change in an America where people are fully free to smoke dope.

Audio production by Ian Keyser.

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  • Elias Fakaname||

    The barn door is open, and Sessions can't close it, no matter how much he may want to.

  • Rockabilly||

    Jeff sessions - eat my shorts you fucking commie rat. I have an old pair with skid marks just for you.

  • Big Ed's Landing||

    In the long haul he can't stop the train of legalization, but until Congress and the DEA act to reclassify marijuana, he can send his agents out to arrest recreational and medicinal marijuana vendors and charge them with federal crimes. He can also go after growers, and really, anyone with any significant amount of marijuana.

    It's nice to smugly say that he can't stop legalization, but the fact is that there has been no legalization at the federal level for him to stop. Growing, selling and using Marijuana are all still federal crimes. At most, all Obama did was tell the Justice Department to look the other way when they smelled the characteristic odor of Marijuana...he didn't legalize anything. If the Marijuana enthusiasts want to get real legalization, they had better start pressuring their representatives in Congress.

  • mjs_28s||

    I live in a town of around 8,000 people with 11 pot shops and guess what....you don't encounter zombies walking the streets high, there aren't more crimes committed than a couple years ago, you can't even smell pot being smoked anywhere. Even despite all that you still have some of the locals complaining about legalized weed and yet you cannot see any signs of it being used.

    You can also buy booze in about 40 places (stores, restaurants, etc) and there aren't drunk people walking around all over the place.

    Colorado has pockets of problems but you aren't going to hear about no problems. Ever seen a news story go like this:

    Tom, "We now turn to our favorite reporter Bryan Smith in the downtown area. Bryan."

    Bryan, "Thanks Tom! I am standing here in the middle of town to report nothing. Nothing has gone wrong. Everything seems to be normal."

    Tom, "Have you heard any rumors or rumblings about something happening or that could happen?"

    Bryan, "Well, yes Tom. While setting up we did hear a rumor but nothing has happened. Reporting live from Downtown USA with nothing to say, I'm Bryan Smith."

    Tom, "Thanks for letting us know nothing. We will check back in with you over the course of the news day for any updates about no information and, especially nothing out of the ordinary."

  • levsr||

    Because, y'know, wine's not actually alcohol.

  • working poor||

    I think that people are in pain. Some people medicate their pain by shopping others do it with alcohol. Generally it is not illegal to be an addict unless you want to medicate your pain with something the government has decided to prohibit. Stats prove that the ratio of non addict /addict has not changed for centuries maybe even a millennia. Most statics on addiction don't include shopping and over eating but these addictions are just as destructive as being addicted to drugs.

    I could smoke a joint without going on a murderous rage or taking out a city. Just like I can have a drink without causing any major destruction. Most people can drink or smoke pot without causing any major destruction even of the people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol most of them only commit so called crimes that are associated with it being illegal. Many people with DUIs have not actually caused harm to anyone other than themselves.

  • working poor||

    I think that people are in pain. Some people medicate their pain by shopping others do it with alcohol. Generally it is not illegal to be an addict unless you want to medicate your pain with something the government has decided to prohibit. Stats prove that the ratio of non addict /addict has not changed for centuries maybe even a millennia. Most statics on addiction don't include shopping and over eating but these addictions are just as destructive as being addicted to drugs.

    I could smoke a joint without going on a murderous rage or taking out a city. Just like I can have a drink without causing any major destruction. Most people can drink or smoke pot without causing any major destruction even of the people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol most of them only commit so called crimes that are associated with it being illegal. Many people with DUIs have not actually caused harm to anyone other than themselves.

  • ohdelilah||

    Really? Have ya READ your state's (any state's) liquor laws? In a sane society, certainly in one that prides itself on its "freedoms," no drug, including "wine and alcohol," would be regulated like wine and alcohol. These laws don't "regulate" drugs; they regulate behavior. Look at it this way: Public support for drug laws rests on the belief that adults -- you know, the people you trust every day to cook your food, dispense your medications, care for your children, your elderly relatives, care for YOU when you're sick or injured, the people into whose hands you literally put your life every time you get into a motor vehicle -- these people can't be trusted to decide for themselves whether to put certain arbitrarily chosen substances to put into their own bodies. Does that make sense to you, that I can be trusted to decide things that affect you, but not things that affect only me?

  • Africanis||

    I sometimes think this is the most important issue to Libertarians considering the articles on it. Cryin shame!

  • ohdelilah||

    It should be the most important issue for everyone. Drug laws affect every single aspect of our lives, from cradle to grave, they attack the very foundation of individual freedom this country was founded on, and by their very nature, can only be enforced by violating the rights that are supposedly near and dear to our red-blooded little hearts. And regardless of how you feel about "Drugs!" the sheer absurdity of a government waging war against its own citizens should have every American, if their not rising up in anger, cowering in shame. (For the record, however, no true Libertarian would suggest regulating pot like alcohol. In a free society, even alcohol wouldn't be regulated the way alcohol is.)

  • ohdelilah||

    *they're*

  • Ditkazbearz2||

    No but he can arrest those that grow it and those that cross state lines and those that sell it

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