Thank Russia: Jeff Sessions Now Too Preoccupied to Crack Down on Marijuana

Photo bu MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Today, Thursday, March 2, Attorney General Jeff Sessions finds himself in a world of shit.

The beady-eyed hobgoblin of the marijuana industry’s nightmares must now navigate an ordeal of his own, after news broke late Wednesday, courtesy of officials inside Sessions’ own Justice Department, that he indeed had talks with top Russian officials last year—before telling fellow senators at his Jan. 10 confirmation hearings the exact opposite.

(This is a bit shocking—we don’t really expect top law enforcement officers to play around with the facts, even in an alternative fact-based administration—but not entirely surprising. Sessions, according to spot-on journalist Louise Mensch, is the man most responsible for recruiting to Donald Trump’s foreign policy team conduits to Russia like the mendacious fact-dodger Carter Page.)

Team Trump is now in full defensive mode, parsing words like Bill Clinton at his worst—debating whether saying “no” in response to a yes-or-no question that’s truthfully answered “yes” is in fact a lie—while top Democrats have leaped at the opportunity like a cat at an immobile mouse made of pate. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi declared Sessions guilty of perjury and called on him to resign, and even more measured calls for Sessions to recuse himself from ongoing investigations.

What does any of this have to do with weed, you may be asking? Nothing—which is the point.

It was only Monday that Jeff Sessions was haunting the country’s cannabis movement with vague threats and odd ramblings about marijuana sold in corner grocery stores. Now, Sessions will be too occupied with serious questions into his truthfulness to worry about weed—which makes the sanguine comments from top lawmakers shrugging off the Justice Department’s existential threat downright prophetic.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, one of the four charter members of Congress’s Cannabis Caucus, told DecodeDC that he’s “absolutely convinced” that pro-marijuana forces will “prevail” in any fight for legalization’s survival.

Blumenauer is basing his assertion on facts. That’s a risky proposition in times like ours, but he may be onto something. For almost a week, all the talk on cannabis from the Trump administration has been full of nonsense.

After White House press secretary Sean Spicer spun the yarn that marijuana might be fueling the opiate crisis—in direct contradiction to a growing body of evidence that cannabis reduces dependence on prescription painkillers—Sessions posited that adult-use marijuana legalization is causing a spike in violence. There’s no evidence at all for any of that, Blumenauer pointed out to DecodeDC.

Bringing that evidence to other members of Congress is exactly what the weed caucus has set out to do—and with no imminent threat posed by weed, victory in the form of a permanent ceasefire may be best won by appealing to Republicans’ conservative principles.

Most Republicans, regardless of what they feel about cannabis, are strongly oriented towards states’ rights,” Blumenauer told DecodeDC. “When we have 28 states that have acted on marijuana… and nine jurisdictions that have acted on adult use, that somehow the federal government is going to step in and overturn all of that is unlikely to the extreme.”

Then again, if Sessions lied about Russia, maybe he’s also lying about weed.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican, says Sessions told him, prior to his confirmation as attorney general, that cannabis was not a priority for the Justice Department. That, Gardner recently told constituents, is totally “at odds” with the comments about “greater enforcement” made by Spicer last week.

Even if marijuana wins the Russian lottery and Sessions is forced to resign in disgrace, there could be career Justice Department officials at the DEA and elsewhere intent on one final big push against pot. On that, Bluemenauer dropped one more logic bomb.

In between dismantling Obamacare, deporting pillars of American communities and finding $56 billion more to spend on cool new toys for the military, there’s simply too much for Republicans to do than meddle in weed. Particularly if marijuana’s heretofore biggest problem now has an even bigger dilemma of his own.

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