Jeff Sessions’ Reversion Back to a Know-Nothing Marijuana Policy

Jeff Sessions is in denial. Despite all the evidence, he refuses to believe that this country’s decades-long War on Drugs has been a colossal failure. The drug war is a public health menace, racially biased, and an economic disaster that has not curbed drug abuse or made anyone safer. All this is lost on Sessions, who insists on turning back sensible change in drug policy around the country and going against the will of the majority of Americans.

On Thursday, Sessions moved to rescind several memoranda issued by the Obama administration that expressed respect for the states whose voters had chosen more progressive marijuana policies. That earlier guidance from the Justice Department included directing federal resources away from enforcing federal drug laws against people who use and cultivate marijuana for personal and medical use in compliance with state laws and leaving undisturbed states that had decided to legalize marijuana through closely enforced regulatory systems.

These policies recognized the rights of states to formulate their own approaches to marijuana use. They also represented a smarter and more scientific approach to federal drug policy and reflected an understanding that states can forge successful approaches for the rest of the country to follow. They were right, and Jeff Sessions is wrong.

That Sessions would ignore science, history, and public health should not be surprising from someone who has said, “good people don’t smoke marijuana.” By thumbing his nose at sensible practices, Sessions is ignoring popular reform at the local level. That reform is the result of states and communities recognizing the enormous damage done by the misguided War on Marijuana, particularly to communities of color. As the ACLU documented in 2013, Blacks are almost four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession as whites, despite comparable usage rates. But these effects seem to be of no concern to Sessions, who is not bothered by police departments that racially profile, policies that criminalize the poor, or charging practices that increase mass incarceration and have a disparate impact on people of color.

Fight back against Sessions' outdated policies

Not only have millions of people, disproportionately people of color, suffered the degradation of being arrested and thrown in jail for nothing more than possessing marijuana, many have had to contend with the debilitating collateral consequences that flow from such contact with the criminal punishment system, including negative impacts on student financial aid eligibility, employment opportunities, child custody decisions, and public housing.

The majority of Americans are in favor of legalizing marijuana. Even more support allowing the use of marijuana as medicine. They are not fooled by recycled drug war propaganda of a throwback drug warrior like Jeff Sessions. Republicans, Democrats, libertarians, and independents recognize that the criminalization of marijuana and people who use it has been a waste of time, money, and lives. Even some local prosecutors in states where marijuana possession is illegal are calling for fewer arrests and supporting legalization.

Not Jeff Sessions. Against all evidence, he’s driving federal policy backwards, even as 29 states have legalized marijuana in some form, and more are likely to follow suit.

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Anonymous

The truth is that the Executive Branch is supposed to enforce the laws as written. People who want the Executive Branch to ignore or change the laws are the ones not confronting the truth that the Constitution says they need to get Congress to change the laws.

Anonymous

Anslinger in charge of enforcing alcohol prohibition. He wanted to stay relevant, so he went after cannabis and hemp. That movie Reefer Madness was hilarious to watch. You're right about Sessions!

Angie

I love it when someone tries to bleat "but, he's just ENFORCING THA LAAAAAWWW!!"

Um, when 29 states have repealed MJ prohibition, he is DIGGING IN HIS HEELS because WE THE PEOPLE have decided this law is WRONG.

Why do you people insist on ignoring the WILL OF THE PEOPLE? We are CHANGING THIS LAW, nationwide.

So GET. OVER. IT.

Robin

Thank you for helping to expose the pure racism, devoid of any science, behind current negative attitudes.

Anonymous

How about you move to a state where marijuana has been legalized and then tell us how well this is all going! You have no idea! They have to keep making new laws to counteract and help clean up the mess these laws have created! It does nothing but spend more tax-payer money for things like heightened law enforcement & crime. Welfare money is being spent to get high. There is now a mafia presences in our rural communities and innocent people are losing their lives. Politicians are lining the pockets with drug money and the states are not benefiting. It's more political garbage at the expense of the tax-payer!

Anonymous

Do you actually have data on police expenditure increasing? What sort of crimes are increasing?

Anonymous

You are an idiot.

Anonymous

What's that? It's generating billions in tax revenue that is being put into local infrastructure, education, and policing? The nerve! It's not causing a large increase in crime? Fake news! Teen use is down?? What? Oh my god the horror of it all, they're just getting better at hiding it since their brother buys it for them now!!

Please, please, please take your propoganda and shove it thoroughly up your ass. That way you'll be able to read it yourself, since it's clear that's where your head is.

Anonymous

Are you actually in one of those states? Because I am, and nothing you’ve stated is happening … quite the opposite. How exactly is it (you think) reducing criminal penalties increases “mafia presences”? Criminals aren’t interested in legal activities, because they can’t profit from it.

Get out of your confirmation bubble, stop spreading propaganda, visit one of these states and take a look for yourself. PLEASE open your fucken eyes. Legalization benefits states and reduces criminal activity (and the accompanying violence and injury). It *could* also benefit our nation, provided DC pulls its head out before everything falls apart …

Anonymous

LOL there’s now a mafia presence in rural areas? But y tho

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