Editor’s note: Several groups sent out press releases responding to today’s Congressional hearings on Sen. Jeff Sessions for Attorney general. You can read them below.
“After finally being put on the spot and questioned on the issue, we are no closer to clarity in regards to Sessions’ plans for how to treat state marijuana laws than we were yesterday. If anything, his comments are a cause for concern and can be interpreted as leaving the door open for enforcing federal law in legalized states,” stated NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri, “If Sessions wants to be an Attorney General for ALL Americans, he must bring his views in line with the majority of the population and support allowing states to set their own marijuana policies without fear of federal intervention.”
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NORML Executive Director
Statement From the Marijuana Policy Project Regarding Attorney General Nominee Jeff Sessions
WASHINGTON — The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) has issued the statement below in response to comments about marijuana policy that were made during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearing for attorney general nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions.
Sen. Patrick Leahy asked Sessions whether he would use federal resources to enforce federal marijuana prohibition laws in states that have adopted laws allowing the use of medical marijuana. Sen. Mike Lee also asked the nominee a question about marijuana policy.
During an appearance earlier in the day on Fox News Channel, President-elect Donald Trump’s spokesman Sean Spicer signaled that Sessions would adhere to Trump’s position that states should be able to establish their own marijuana policies. “When you come into a Trump administration, it’s the Trump agenda you’re implementing and not your own,” he said. “I think Senator Sessions is well aware of that.”
Statement from MPP Director of Federal Policies Robert Capecchi:
“It is notable that Sen. Sessions chose not to commit to vigorously enforcing federal prohibition laws in states that have reformed their marijuana laws. He also recognized that enforcing federal marijuana laws would be dependent upon the availability of resources, the scarcity of which poses a problem. He was given the opportunity to take an extreme prohibitionist approach and he passed on it.
“It’s also promising that Donald Trump’s spokesperson said earlier in the day that the next attorney general would follow the president-elect’s lead on the issue. President-elect Trump has made it clear that he supports states’ rights to establish their own marijuana policies. Considering both Sen. Sessions and Mr. Spicer’s comments, we remain cautiously optimistic that the incoming administration will continue the current policy of not interfering with individuals and entities acting in compliance with state marijuana laws.”
Robert Capecchi, Director of Federal Policies
Americans for Safe Access Responds to Senator Jeff Sessions’ Attorney General Confirmation Hearing
Washington, DC — Today, confirmation hearings began for attorney general nominee, Senator Jeff Sessions. During the hearing, Sessions was questioned about medical marijuana by Senators Patrick Leahy and Mike Lee. Sessions implied that he would enforce current federal marijuana laws. Earlier in the hearing, Sessions said he would advise President Trump not to set policies that would conflict with federal law. While Sessions’ response did not explicitly state he would shut down state marijuana programs, his response to Senator Lee was, “the United States Congress has made the possession of marijuana in every state and the distribution of it an illegal act,” and that, “it’s not so much the Attorney General’s job to decide what laws to enforce. We should do our jobs and enforce laws as effectively as we are able.” Sessions concluded that Congress must change the law if they do not want the Attorney General to prosecute marijuana crimes.
In response, Mike Liszewski, Director of Government Affairs for Americans for Safe Access, released the following statement:
“The vague answers given by Senator Jeff Sessions during today’s Attorney General confirmation hearing provided little comfort for the 2 million American patients who rely on state-run medical cannabis programs to provide them with physician-recommended medicine. Each of the 44 states that have medical cannabis programs, including 15 states with patient access to CBD, such as Sessions home state of Alabama, technically violate federal law.
“While it is encouraging the President-Elect Trump’s incoming press secretary has said Sessions will abide by Trump’s position on medical cannabis, Sessions has yet to make such a commitment to respect state medical cannabis laws. With that said, Sessions still has an opportunity to set the record straight and pledge that he will respect medical cannabis patients and the state programs upon which they rely. Similarly, Congress can put the issue to rest by passing legislation to respect state medical laws.”
Contact: Anna Zuccaro | firstname.lastname@example.org | 914-523-9145
General industry comments/responses
Nate Bradley, Executive Director of the California Cannabis Industry Association (CCIA): Despite Session’s comments about enforcing federal laws, we expect the Trump Administration will make good on its commitment to states’ rights. Just this morning, when asked about medical cannabis, the administration’s Press Secretary reaffirmed that Trump’s entire cabinet, including Sessions, will be “implementing a Trump agenda,” and that Senator Sessions is “well aware of that.”
Isaac Dietrich, CEO of MassRoots: If Senator Sessions goes after the regulated cannabis industry, he will destroy tens of thousands of jobs, shut down hundreds of small businesses and take away millions of dollars from our schools. Hopefully the Trump Administration supports states’ rights on cannabis legalization, despite Senator Sessions’ personal views.
Derek Peterson, CEO of Terra Tech: Senator Sessions has always been a supporter of states’ rights. Trump has made being pro-industry and states’ rights a cornerstone of his Administration, and we are expecting these principles to be consistent among how all members of the Trump Administration prioritize their resources. Congress should also change the law to reflect the will of the people and bring the regulated cannabis industry under the rule of law.
Frank Lane, Vice President of CannabisFN, and Matt Karnes, Founder and Managing Partner GreenWave Advisors, LLC: Though it is possible that a slightly more restrictive “Sessions Memo” will replace the existing Cole Memo, we do not believe an AG Sessions will disrupt the long term growth prospects of the U.S. Cannabis industry. At the end of the day, his boss, President-Elect Donald Trump, is a proponent of job creation and states’ rights.
Serge Chistov, Business Advisor to Honest Marijuana: The statement is expected and quite in line with the official ‘policy’ of the Federal government. What would worry me is the commitment to influence state-specific AG’s policies and decisions. We don’t hear that, but rather general blah-blah and we have inconsistencies in our policies/laws. What else is new? It seems the genie is out of the bottle.