Donald Trump’s transition team announced Friday morning that Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is the president-elect’s nominee for Attorney General. Sessions, a “far-right” conservative, was the first senator to officially endorse Mr. Trump in February of this year. Although he’s known for his hard-line stance on immigration, Sessions also opposes both recreational and medical marijuana.
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While attending a Senate Drug Caucus hearing in April of this year, Sessions criticized the Justice Department’s lack of enforcement in states that had legalized marijuana:
“We need grown-ups in charge in Washington to say that marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized,” he said. “It ought not to be minimized … it’s in fact a very real danger.”
In addition, Sessions spoke of the need to spread awareness about the dangers of marijuana:
“You cannot play with it,” he stated, “It is not funny, it’s not something to laugh about.”
This is not Sessions’ first federal nomination. He served as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama from 1981 to 1993, and he was elected Attorney General of the state in 1994 before his election to the Senate in 1996.
In 1986, he was nominated for a federal judgeship by then-President Reagan. However, the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee ultimately blocked him. One of the individuals who testified regarding his experiences with Sessions was Thomas Figures, a former federal prosecutor. According to The New York Times, Figures stated that Sessions had described the Ku Klux Klan as “fine” – up until he found out they smoked pot. While Sessions has since said that the comment was a joke, the statement unmistakably illuminates his sentiments on marijuana, whether comically intended or not.
Furthermore, in 2014, Sessions described himself as “heartbroken” in response to President Obama’s comments to The New Yorker regarding the diminished dangers of marijuana when compared to the dangers of to alcohol.
“Did the president conduct any medical or scientific survey before he waltzed into The New Yorker and opined contrary to the positions of attorneys general and presidents universally prior to that?” he asked. “Lady Gaga says she’s addicted to it, and it is not harmless.”
However, Despite Trump’s nomination, Sessions will still have to be confirmed by the Senate, which will likely not be smooth sailing, despite Congress’ Republican majority.
Perhaps his most elucidating statement Sessions has made on his sentiments about marijuana legalization occurred during April Senate Drug Caucus hearing, mentioned above, in which he said that he wanted to send a “message with clarity.” That message?
“Good people don’t smoke marijuana.”