WASHINGTON – On the eve of confirmation hearings for U.S. Attorney General-nominee Jeff Sessions, legalization advocates called on the Senate Judiciary Committee to press the Alabama senator to state clearly whether he would overturn the will of the voters by cracking down on legalized marijuana.
“Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump have publicly stated opposite opinions on legalized marijuana and states rights. The voters and legislatures in 28 states and the District of Columbia that have legalized marijuana for medical use, and another eight states and the District of Columbia that approved adult-use marijuana, have a right to know where Sessions stands on the issue,” said Adam Eidinger, co-founder of the leading cannabis advocacy group DCMJ.
Trump has stated he respects the rights of states that legalize marijuana and even has gone so far as saying he backs medical marijuana “100 percent.” However, Sessions vehemently opposes the use of marijuana, saying last year “good people don’t smoke marijuana.”
“President-elect Trump has made it clear that he understands the issue, and he is a staunch supporter of states rights. We assume what he says goes, and he will not be overruled by a cabinet appointee,” Eidinger said. “Trump shouldn’t have to flip-flop on an issue that the majority of Americans agree with just because his attorney general tells him to.”
“If Donald Trump stands his ground and sticks to his own words on cannabis he can look to opportunities to implement criminal justice reforms, discover medical applications for the plant, and enjoy the fruits of job-creation and commerce,” Eidinger added. “So who’s the boss, Donald or Jeff?”
“Since DC is not a state, we cannot expect the ‘States Rights’ argument to hold water. We need to hear that DC’s ballot initiative 71 will not be overturned and, more importantly, efforts will be made to remove the budget rider that prevents the DC government from opening adult-use dispensaries,” concludes Nikolas Schiller, the co-founder of DCMJ.
DCMJ plans to be out in force on Capitol Hill line-sitting during the two days of confirmation hearings for Sessions. What Trump has said on legalization:
- “In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state… Marijuana is such a big thing. I think medical should happen — right? Don’t we agree? I think so. And then I really believe we should leave it up to the states.” – Donald Trump, The Washington Post, October 2015
- “I’d say [regulating marijuana] is bad. Medical marijuana is another thing, but I think it’s bad and I feel strongly about that. [Moderator: “What about the states’ right aspect of it?”] If they vote for it, they vote for it… But I think, medical marijuana, 100%.” – Donald Trump, CSPAN, June 2015
What Sessions has said on legalization:
- Sessions said in an April 2016 Senate hearing on marijuana reform “good people don’t smoke marijuana.” Sessions also pointed to the tenuous theory that marijuana is a gateway drug, and said that, “you’ll see cocaine and heroin increase more than it would have.”
- “We need grown ups in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought not to be minimized, that it is in fact a very real danger,” Sessions said at the hearing in April.
- “You can’t have the President of the United States of America talking about marijuana like it is no different than taking a drink, saying I used marijuana when I was in high school and it is no different than smoking. It is different. And you are sending a message to young people that there is no danger in this process. It is false that marijuana use doesn’t lead people to more drug use. It is already causing a disturbance in the States that have made it legal. I think we need to be careful about this… I believe the Department of Justice needs to be clearer,” Sessions added.
- At a 1986 confirmation hearing for his failed nomination as a U.S. District Judge, it was revealed that during an investigation while serving as a prosecutor in an Alabama case involving a the lynching of a black man, Sessions, quipped: “I thought those guys [the Ku Klux Klan] were OK until I learned they smoked pot.”
- Sessions has called cannabis reforms: a “tragic mistake.”
- Sessions has criticized FBI Director James Comey and Attorneys General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch for not vigorously enforcing the federal prohibition that President Obama has called “untenable over the long term.”
Supporters of legalization and responsible cannabis laws can support DCMJ’s efforts by:
- visiting http://dcmj.org;
- following DCMJ on Twitter at @DCMJ2014;
- “liking” us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/dcmj2014/; or
- by making a donation via http://dcmj.org/donate/.
Adam Eidinger, co-founder, DCMJ: (202) 744-2671
Nikolas Schiller, co-founder and communications director, DCMJ: (202) 460-0032