The new Republican political administration has many people wondering what’s next for the marijuana industry, and recent changes to the scheduling language concerning CBD oil and marijuana resin extracts in the DEA’s Controlled Substances Act has the hemp industry wondering the same thing. Trump has stated he believes the states should decide their own marijuana policies, and supports medical marijuana. But Trump won’t be the Attorney General for his administration, and it’s looking as if a much more conservative and anti-marijuana senator will be selected for that position.
Jeff Sessions’ Racist and Anti-Cannabis Views
Jeff Sessions has repeatedly stated his opposition to marijuana legalization, in medical or any other form, and was even denied a federal judgeship at 39 due to racist rhetoric. Sessions even went so far as to combine the two, according to his black assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Figures, who noted that Sessions frequently called him “boy” and said he thought Ku Klux Klan members were “OK, until he learned that they smoked marijuana.” J. Gerald Hebert, a Justice Department Lawyer said, “Things that I had heard firsthand from [Sessions] were things that demonstrated gross racial insensitivity to black citizens of Alabama and the United States,” and that Sessions called the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) “un-American” and Communist-inspired.” Is this the type of person we want running the U.S. Department of Justice? No!
What Does the Attorney General Do?
Essentially, the Attorney General of the United States is in charge of the U.S. Department of Justice, serving as the “‘People’s Lawyer’ for all citizens.” In Sessions’ case, I don’t think he will be able to uphold this position at all, since he clearly favors different laws and regulations for different citizens. The Attorney General has the power to issue formal opinions to state agencies; act as public advocate for child support enforcement, consumer protections, antitrust and utility regulation; propose legislation; enforce federal and state environmental law; represent state and state agencies in state and federal courts; handle criminal appeals and statewide criminal prosecutions; institute civil suits on behalf of the states; represent the public interest in charitable trust and solicitations; and operate victim compensation programs. The A.G., in other words, must uphold civil rights laws or not, as he or she sees fit. The military, a large part of the A.G.’s jurisdiction, is “one of the most ethnically diverse institutions in the country.” As you can see, the matters the Attorney General handles are of a very sensitive nature; do we really want a proven racist and anti-marijuana Senator in a position of such awesome power? No – it would be disastrous, to say the least.
Jeff Sessions’ Anti-Civil Rights & Anti-Marijuana History
Jeff Sessions has not just made a few off-hand remarks against African Americans and civil liberties organizations in the United States (although these remarks alone should keep him from being elected as the next U.S. Attorney General); the man has fought against human rights and legal marijuana on various front during his twenty years as a U.S. Senator. Some examples:
- 1981: J. Gerald Hebert testified that a federal judge called a white lawyer “a disgrace to his race” for representing black clients, and Sessions responded, “Well, maybe he is.” (Sessions said he didn’t remember this conversation, but did not deny it; he was denied the judgeship then as he should be denied the position of Attorney General now.)
- Hebert also testified that Sessions called the NAACP and the ACLU “un-American” for “trying to force civil rights down the throats of people.” Clearly Sessions doesn’t believe that civil rights are necessary for everyone.
- Sessions called an African American prosecutor “boy” and joked that the Ku Klux Klan was “O.K. until I found out they smoked pot.”
- Sessions called the NAACP “a commie group and a pinko organization,” referring to their possible communist associations.
- 1986: Thomas H. Figures, an African American prosecutor for the U.S. government testified that Sessions called him “boy” while they worked together.
- Sessions once prosecuted civil rights activists on charges of voter fraud in an attempt to intimidate black voters.
- 2016: Sessions voted to increase penalties for illegal immigrants entering the United States
- 2016: Sessions voted against or didn’t vote on grants for the Health and Human Services Department to address the opioid and heroin abuse epidemic in the U.S., including an inter-agency task force for reviewing, modifying, and updating best practices for prescribing pain medications
- 2015: Sessions voted against Federal funding for Planned Parenthood
- 2016: Sessions said “good people don’t smoke marijuana…marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it out to be minimized, that it is in fact a very real danger” in a Senate hearing statement
The list goes on and on. Sessions has voted time and time again to support military spending, and yet he has also made racist statements against many of the people who fight in our military.
What Can You Do to Keep Sessions from Being Elected as U.S. Attorney General?
It’s clear that Sessions received this appointment by becoming the first sitting Senator to support Trump’s run for the White House. Before he becomes the U.S. Attorney General, he must be approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 10 and 11 of 2017. Those hearings are held tomorrow and the following day – call your senators now that you don’t want Jeff Sessions to bring his racist rhetoric and anti-legal marijuana views to the White House. Our country has come so far in the fight against racism, with the help of organizations like the NAACP and the ACLU, who are staunchly against the confirmation of Sessions as the U.S. Attorney General in 2017.
January 2017 Protest by the NAACP at Sessions’ Office in Alabama
The Alabama chapter of NAACP, including Bernard Simelton (its president), staged a sit-in at Sessions’ office in Mobile, Alabama, on January 6 just as the 115th Congress began. All six protestors were arrested, but not before they received “media attention and support from across the country.” 1200 law school professors have signed this letter to protest Sessions’ nomination as Attorney General.
Tell the Senate to Reject Jeff Sessions for Attorney General & Demand a Marijuana Stance
As Vanita Gupta, the Obama adminstration’s top civil rights prosecutor stated, “Laws alone do not guarantee justice, eradicate hate, or advance freedom. People do. People like you do. Organizations like the NAACP do.” I don’t want someone who is anti-freedom, pro-hate, anti-marijuana, and sees justice as something only white people should receive as the Attorney General for our country. I want someone who supports marijuana and civil rights. Contact your senators today to tell them you don’t want Jeff Sessions to represent you in Trump’s administration. Go on his Facebook page and tell him what you think of his racist rhetoric and negative, baseless opinions of the marijuana industry and marijuana rights for Americans. Check out the recent and planned protests known as the “Smoke Sessions” campaign of the DCMJ advocacy group. If you live in Washington, D.C., be a part of the DC Cannabis Coalition’s protest involving passing out and lighting 4,200 marijuana joints on the day of Trump’s inauguration as the next president of the United States. Preserve the marijuana rights and civil rights that people have fought for in this country for generations, and ask that Jeff Sessions take a stance on legal and medicinal marijuana prior to the Senate hearings on his nomination. Whatever you do, don’t assume that Jeff Sessions’ opinion on marijuana is magically going to change without input from you. Stand up for the rights you worked so hard to get.