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Fight back against Sessions' outdated policies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

Get over it dope heads pot is illegal and you will go to jail

Anonymous

How we got to this point is beyond me... It's my understanding that a State cannot make a law that goes contrary to federal law. Weed is illegal under federal law, so why and how are states legalizing it? Sessions is just enforcing the law...Osama's executive orders are not laws.

Angie

"States' Rights!" "States' Rights!"

What was that you were bleating again, lol? I couldn't hear you over the sound of your own hypocrisy!!!

Anonymous

well is should be a state right but congress overstepped its bounds by making it federal law. the executive order was attempting to make moves towards that and allowing the states to govern themselves. getting a federal law repealed is insanely difficult and would need support from the entirety of the country when it should be up to the state to decide.

Anonymous

Mr. Edwards, you seem to have forgotten Article 1 of the Constitution. The one that put all legislative powers in the hands of CONGRESS. Sessions is not a member of Congress - nor was Obama. The laws say that pot is illegal so, if those laws need to be changed then CONGRESS needs to change them. The Executive Branch upholds, or Executes, the laws. The names of the Branches conveniently give you a clue as to what the Constitution says they should do - in case you forget again.

Anonymous

Only the people within a State can vote to change that States laws. If you allow Federal Laws to be changed via the enactment of State laws that means that only the people of one State, or the handful of States that made laws contrary to the Federal ones get to have a voice in whether Federal Laws will change. I can't believe the ACLU is advocating to deny millions of US citizens the right to a say in Federal Laws.

Anonymous

The legal Marijuana Industry could now file a 14th Amendment "equal protection" lawsuit as a "corporate-citizen" demanding the same rights as the alcohol, tobacco and prescription drug industries thanks to the "Citizens United" U.S. Supreme Court ruling. The industry now has "legal standing" to challenge the laws in every state.

Anonymous

The prescription drug industry only has the "right" to market a medication AFTER that medication has undergone extensive, and expensive, testing. That may actually be a major problem for the pro-pot industry at some point down the road as they've been trying to convince the government, and citizens, to legalize marijuana due to its medicinal benefits.

Radicalsolution...

It is racist to legalize weed because after all those blacks that went to jail for it won't be growing it. It will be the Whiteman. Ne ways I quit smoking the stuff. It is a waste of money. But I do say instead of making meth crack and heroin illegal we should legalized it. Let the drug addicts work and live on compounds for conpanys have 3 nutritious meals a day, a nice bed TV music and stuff and of course the best purist pharmecutical grade drugs of there choice which are very cheap to make as pay as well as some healthcare.. Which is a he'll of a lot better than being on the streets homeless prostitution thefts and violence. Not to mention a he'll of a lot better than prison and cheaper.

Cause I mean fuck if we are going to support city sanctioned shooting gallery's. We might as well take the legalization further. It would save a lot of money. Fuck I'd sign up if I was still shooting crank and smack.

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