New Answers on Marijuana From Trump’s Attorney General Pick

Radical Rant: Sessions Thinks 'Just Say No' Can Fix Opioid Crisis
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The confirmation hearings for Senator Jefferson Beauregard “Jim Bob Skeeter Bubba” Sessions to become our next attorney general under Predator Trumputin featured a few pointed questions from senators concerned about federal enforcement of marijuana laws in their states.

Back in April, Sessions had a blistering response to a witness in a hearing about the impact of state recreational marijuana legalization.

“Did the Drug Czar of the United States of America… express any opinion… about the possible dangerous impacts of marijuana legalization in Colorado?” he asked.

Sessions continued, expressing the alternative facts that “you’ll see cocaine and heroin increase” and a “huge increase in marijuana-related emergency room visits,” as well as “accidents [and] traffic deaths related to marijuana” because of marijuana legalization.

“We’re going to see more marijuana use, and it’s not going to be good!” Sessions intoned. “I mean, we need grown-ups in charge in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought not to be minimized, that it’s, in fact, a very real danger… I think one of [President Obama’s] great failures—it’s been obvious to me—his lax treatment and comments on marijuana.”

Like his boss, Sessions wants to “Make America Great Again,” which appears to have been sometime in the 1980s.

“It’s been obvious;” Sessions droned on, “it reverses 20 years, almost, of hostility to drugs, begun really when Nancy Reagan started the ‘Just Say No’ program…”

“If we go back into this path, we’re going to regret it,” warned Sessions. “Lives will be impacted, families will be broken up, children will be damaged… and people may be psychologically impacted the rest of their lives with marijuana,” winding up with that hoary gateway drug alternative fact, “and if they go on to more serious drugs, which tends to happen, and deny it if you want to, but it tends to happen, there’ll be even greater causes….”

Sessions closed with the biggest alternative fact of them all that “this drug is dangerous, you cannot play with it, it’s not funny, it’s not something to laugh about, and trying to send that message with clarity that good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

Now, Sessions has released his answers to written questions submitted by senators, but his responses provide no new clarity for the marijuana industry and cannabis consumers.

Worse, Sessions’ use of more alternative facts regarding his previous comments lead me to believe he’s concealing his true intention to crack down on marijuana in order to get the job.

When asked about his “good people don’t smoke marijuana” alternative fact, Sessions replied, “My words have been grossly mischaracterized and taken out of context… I was discussing the value of treating people for using dangerous and illegal drugs like marijuana, and the context in which treatment is successful.”

The context was the impact of state recreational marijuana legalization.

Sessions opened his remarks with statistics about the use of marijuana by high school kids and how much it declined in the “Just Say No” era. He spent a great deal of time chastising the Obama administration for not promoting “this idea that marijuana is not dangerous” and not recognizing the “dangerous impacts of marijuana legalization in Colorado.”

Nowhere in his remarks did Sessions discuss rehab or any sort of drug treatment facilities, but if you’d like to verify the context of his remarks for yourself, thanks to C-Span, you can:

Sessions was also coy about the future of the Cole Memorandum, the Obama Department of Justice’s eight guidelines concerning federal prosecution of state-legal marijuana operations.

“While I am generally familiar with the Cole memorandum,” Sessions wrote, “I am not privy to any internal Department of Justice data regarding the effectiveness and value of the policies contained within that memorandum… I will certainly review and evaluate those policies….”

He also reiterated a point he had made in his verbal testimony to the senate.

“I will not commit to never enforcing federal law,” Sessions promised. “Whether an arrest and investigation of an individual who may be violating the law is appropriate is a determination made in individual cases based on the sometimes unique circumstances surrounding those cases, as well as the resources available at the time.”

Scarce federal resources? Didn’t President Obama say something about scarce federal resources when he ran for president in 2008, only to then preside over more DEA raids on medical marijuana providers than any president before him?

Sessions was also asked about the Rohrabacher Amendment, a spending rider that prevents the Justice Department from using any federal funds to prosecute state-legal medical marijuana. He didn’t know much about the amendment, which expires in April and cannot be renewed, but added a chilling comment that “of course, medical marijuana use is a small part of the growing commercial marijuana industry,” perhaps signaling that adult-use marijuana will be fair game for prosecution.

The Alabama senator concluded with his commitment, like his predecessor Loretta Lynch, “to enforcing federal law with respect to marijuana, although the exact balance of enforcement priorities is an ever-changing determination based on the circumstances and the resources available at the time.”

Remember that Lynch couldn’t enforce federal law in the medical states, thanks to that Rohrabacher Amendment. However, in her 18 months as attorney general, Lynch didn’t cause any problems for the adult-use states, either.

The senate is scheduled to vote on Sessions’ confirmation today, though Democrats may try to delay the vote.

I think the man who said, “I believe the Department of Justice needs to be clear… I think it’s really serious” back in April is more believable than the same man polishing his résumé for a job promotion. The confirmation of Jeff Sessions as attorney general will be a nightmare for the marijuana industry.

Previously in Radical Rant: Marijuana’s Imminent Trump-A-Palooza

Click here for all of Russ Belville’s columns.

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