Marijuana Advocates Parsing Sessions' Testimony For Signs Of New Federal Approach

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Marijuana Advocates Parsing Sessions' Testimony for Signs of New Federal Approach

The nation’s fast-growing marijuana industry remains cautiously optimistic but uncertain about how the Trump administration will handle cannabis enforcement across the country.

Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions, testifying at the start of his confirmation hearings on Tuesday, pointed out that marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, but that the federal government has limited enforcement resources. Eight states — Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington — have legalized recreational marijuana, as has the District of Columbia. And 29 states permit some form of medical marijuana use.

Marijuana-industry workers worry Sessions, a Republican U.S. senator with a longstanding opposition to marijuana legalization, could crush an nascent industry that’s on track to be worth $21 billion within three years. During his testimony Tuesday, Sessions reminded Congress that it has the power to legalize pot nationally. During the election, President-elect Trump said he would respect states’ rights and leave alone marijuana programs, but didn’t discuss national legalization.

“It’s not so much the attorney general’s job to decide what laws to enforce,” Sessions said in response to a question. “We should do our job and enforce laws effectively.”

Legalization advocates say they worry Sessions’ nomination was a signal that Trump had changed his mind. But the president-elect’s spokesman on Tuesday morning said nominees would be expected to carry out Trump’s agenda. Polls show a majority of Americans support marijuana legalization, and tens of thousands of people are working in the home-grown industry.

“It's time for federal lawmakers to represent the clear choices of their constituents,” National Cannabis Industry Association executive director Aaron Smith said in a statement.

Today, marijuana dealers feel largely protected by the Cole Memo, a Justice Department letter establishing under what circumstances federal law enforcement would step in. Generally speaking, the Cole Memo says the federal government will ignore marijuana businesses working in states with strong regulatory systems that take steps to keep pot out of the hands of children and prevent drug cartels from profiting. But that 2013 memo also specifically says prosecutors retain the discretion to target the marijuana industry if there’s a “strong federal interest.” Sessions could rescind that memo once he’s on the job.

Congress also has prohibited the Justice Department from using federal money to interfere with medical marijuana patients in states where it’s been approved. Medical marijuana advocates say they were disappointed Sessions didn't discuss medical programs in more detail.

The hearing continues Wednesday.


Being a reagan era nominee does not bode well for cannabis as prez reagan began his war on minorities via legal racism also known as the war on drugs.

What makes him qualified now as opposed to unqualified and not confirmed back then is troublesome, as I don't see how he has changed at all, except to keep his racist bullshit to himself. Racism is the reason behind federal sentencing disparities, as well as being the main reason behind making drugs illegal in the first place. I believe that institutional racism born of ignorance and xenophobia is the true reason behind drug prohibition. Whitey was afraid of the culture of opiate use among chinese and other minority railroad workers, whitey was then afraid of jazz music and blacks and cocaine, whitey was then afraid of the mexicans and their marijuana, all of which led to the prohibition of opiates like heroine, cocaine, and other 'horrible' drugs like marijuana.

There is nothing that is going to hold back jeff sessions, obama said he would be hands off and more dispensaries were raided than ever before. Why would a new administration and reagan-era drug warrior make anything 'better'? I don't see anything but negative actions for marijuana. I don't see any reason why senior jeffe wouldn't withdraw or ignore either the Cole Memo or the Ogden Memo.

Is the medical and recreational marijuana industry dependent on the Cole memo or is it just lip service?


Here's an interesting post, from simple justice:

Senate confirmation hearings will begin today over the nomination of Jeff Sessions, of all people, as Attorney General of the United States. This makes some people who are concerned about criminal law reform and civil rights angry. It’s understandable, as Jeff Sessions represents none of the qualities in an AG that we would hope for. But what did we expect? Did anyone seriously think Trump was going to nominate Ramsey Clark?

Will Sessions be as awful an AG as anticipated? Maybe. Maybe not. There are issues that should, under other circumstances, make his confirmation hearings contentious, such as his omissions on his disclosures, not to mention the same reasons why the Senate refused to confirm him as a federal judge. They will be raised. Sessions will be confirmed anyway.

And Sessions will join a group of others who served in the office of Attorney General. Like Dick Thornburgh, John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzalez. Remember them? They sucked, each and every one of them, if your concern was criminal law reform and civil rights. But it’s not just that we survived them, but that there was neither shock nor surprise that conservative presidents appointed conservative attorneys general. It’s what they do. It’s what they were expected to do.

If you want someone to be angry about, furious about, you’re looking at the wrong guy. Don’t blame Trump for nominating Sessions. Don’t blame Sessions for being Sessions. If you want someone to blame, blame Eric Holder. Blame Loretta Lynch. Blame Barack Obama.

By some weird quirk of human nature, some loyalty to team, some delusion, we magically forget that we’re closing out eight years of a progressive Democratic administration. The first two years, you may recall, gave the president a Congress of his own party. But the next six were still under attorneys general who professed all the empathies we could want in an AG.

These were the attorneys general who were supposed to preside over the reforms so critically necessary. Everything from reformation of junk science in the courtroom to removal of marijuana from Schedule I, from the eradication of mandatory minimums to the reformation of law enforcement tactics to conform to constitutional rights.

Eric Holder. Loretta Lynch. These were the attorneys general who should have fixed things. They failed. They refused. And you’re angry with Jeff Sessions? What are you thinking?

Many of you gushed with hope and change when the AGs mouthed the words our ears so desperately wanted to hear. Yes, yes, it’s finally going to happen. And then . . . nothing. There is a trick that government officials learned long ago, that points are scored by saying the words advocates pray for, and they will sing your praises even if you don’t actually do a damn thing, make any change, fix a problem.

Putting aside the irony that the same feds who look so adorable now were the ones committing the atrocities of their time, one of the few faux changes of the Obama administration was the writing of scathing reports about civil rights violations by police. Journalists loved these reports, as they provided great quotes and validated their stories about the evils of police.

This produced bias that blinded writers. They were reports, after the fact, that did nothing. They were mere words. No one was saved. Nothing changed. Police chiefs would hold solemn press conferences where they would promise to do better, praise the Constitution and explain how vital it was to humanity that all lives mattered. It was so thrilling that no one noticed that not a single cop on the street changed a single thing that he did. Ever.

My good buddy, Radley Balko, who’s been surprisingly emotional about Sessions’ nomination, wrote about Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s rejection of the PCAST report, just as Eric Holder rejected the 2009 National Academies of Science report before her. These weren’t far out reports, but reflected the clear assertion of the scientific community that we were convicting people by the use of invalid forensic science, manufactured for the purpose of conviction and in flagrant conflict with anything remotely scientific.

Radley called Lynch’s refusal to recognize science “at odds” with President Obama’s self-congratulatory magnum opus. Had it been Sessions who rejected science, the characterization might be a bit more harsh. But since it was the beloved Democratic savior of criminal law, the blow was, shall we say, mild.

Who do you think is going to be the champion for reform, for science, for undoing the machinery of death, for ending the pretense of safety at the expense of constitutional rights? Who should have been the Attorney General to finally remove marijuana from Schedule I? Who should have never started giving MRAPs to police departments with seven cops? Who should have ended the policy of charging every federal criminal defendant with the highest possible charge to coerce pleas and cooperation regardless of guilt?

Who the hell did you think was going to fix these things? Sessions?

But Holder didn’t. Lynch didn’t. Obama didn’t. We had eight years of an administration that could have, should have, reformed the things that everyone conceded needed reforming. Hell, even law enforcement “leaders” put on their own dog and pony shows to let us know they were wrong. The iron was hot. The people who were supposed to be better held office, had the power to change things. The stars were aligned. And . . . nothing.

Will Jeff Sessions be the savior of criminal law? Of course not. But then, Trump never promised to reform the law, never suggested he would do anything other than put a guy like Sessions into office. What about this surprises you? Will Sessions be worse than Holder and Lynch? Probably, but then, aside from not mouthing the words that warm the cockles of advocates’ hearts, what could he do on the ground that would be much different from the past eight years?

We had eight years of the “good guys.” We got, essentially, squat. If you want a direction for your outrage, blame the people who should have known better and failed you, not the person whom no one expects to fix anything. Your problem shouldn’t be with Jeff Sessions, but with the cesspool he’ll take over once he’s confirmed.


I disagree, you should dislike the guy because he is an asshole out to do harm.

The argument presented seems to be some victim blaming shit. We shouldn't be mad at the person doing harm because the previous guys didn't do enough to make it so they couldn' I reading that correctly?


I disagree, you should dislike the guy because he is an asshole out to do harm.

The argument presented seems to be some victim blaming shit. We shouldn't be mad at the person doing harm because the previous guys didn't do enough to make it so they couldn' I reading that correctly?
Are you referring to me or to the author of the piece I linked?

Alternately, are you disagreeing with the parts referencing Radley Balko and Holder/Lynch?


The YOU is not a particular person. I just disagree with the point they are making. Sessions is not a good person in general and definitely not for AG. That article struck me as trying to be like "yeah...well he sucks but the previous guys were not all we hoped for so we should just be fine with this guy."


Well Fuck Xavier, how are we supposed to debate and hurl underhanded insults at each other unless we disagree?

I think you are wrong. It's not that Sessions is 'not a good person in general', it's that he's a despicable human piece of shit who deservedly wasn't confirmed back in the day, and nothing has changed except politicians are bigger asshats than ever before.

(I completely agree with you)

Take the weekend, we'll brainstorm an issue that we both know nothing about, then debate on minor semantic issues rather than the crux of the argument. For example, we could argue gay marriage by whose ass looks bigger in those pants, or we could debate school vouchers by arguing about PBS funding, or perhaps, the best, we could argue about abortion by debating Planned Parenthood!

Just imagine, we get to act just as self serving and ignorant as our elected douchenozzles, AND, we don't have to know what the fuck we're talking about, which is pretty much par for the course.

This is gonna be awesome. But only if you can see it from that place, in order to come over to this place, given the reverse limitations of the input inverter on the obverse. But we can't really get to that place because of this place and that would be a second third of the second wing that takes place every other third Friday. @xavier7995

#WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot #VerbalPooDebate #XisMasterDebater #LGGisFuct
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