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The Sessions ‘Marijuana Crackdown’ Is Backfiring

Sessions Crackdown Cannabis Now
Photo Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Joint Opinions

The Sessions ‘Marijuana Crackdown’ Is Backfiring

Since Attorney General Jeff Sessions revoked the cannabis-friendly Cole Memo on Jan. 4, two state legislatures have voted to legalize marijuana, a third held fast to its legalization plans, and a Republican senator hinted he’d introduce a federal legalization measure.

It’s been a week since Jeff Sessions shook the marijuana world to its core, or tried to.

On Jan. 4, the attorney general followed up a year’s worth of open threats and obvious fighting words aimed at cannabis legalization — a plant which Sessions really, really does not like — with his boldest move yet: the revocation of the “Cole Memo,” the Obama-era policy missive that triggered a period of even more furious growth in already-booming legal marijuana.

Without the Cole Memo steering prosecutors away from state-legal cannabis and giving banks some assurance that their marijuana accounts would not be seized, surely the inexorable trend towards allowing medical cannabis or outright legalization would be halted.

The impact of Sessions’s crackdown, however, was immediate and decisive, but not in the way Sessions expected. The very next day, Vermont lawmakers voted to legalize marijuana, a feat followed up by legislators in New Hampshire, who on Monday approved a plan that would allow adults to possess small amounts of cannabis and grow up to six plants at home.

Two days after Sessions’s big day, commercial sales of marijuana began in San Francisco, where lawmakers all but dared him and other federal officers to do something about it, and other politicians converted the attorney general’s move into a talking point.

In New Jersey, the state that recently gave us Chris Christie, incoming Governor Phil Murphy assured voters that his plan to legalize marijuana within 100 days was still on.

In Congress, Republican Colorado Senator Cory Gardner, a key collaborator in the passage of Donald Trump’s tax bill, fumed and vowed to block passage of judicial nominees unless Sessions relented — and if he didn’t, that it might be the impetus necessary for a “legislative solution,” Senate-speak for a federal legalization bill.

Elsewhere, the attorney general was branded a “hypocrite” and a traitor to conservative values. Conservatives bashed him, liberals blasted him, libertarians wondered what got into him.

Sessions achieved the unthinkable: In these divisive partisan times, the attorney general has found a way to unite Americans behind a common cause. In other words, Sessions is failing, in spectacular fashion. Instead of blocking marijuana legalization in its tracks, he appears to have given it a boost.

Such a backlash was predictable. Indeed, it was predicted. “This is an open-and-shut issue for liberals, for libertarians, for young people, even for a lot of conservatives and Trump voters,” Robby Soave, an associate editor at libertarian Reason magazine, told Vox. “They may not all like weed, but they are coming around to the position that banning it isn’t worth the effort, and in any case, this should be up to the states.”

In the new Trump White House tell-all, “The Fire and the Fury,” writer Michael Wolff gave more voice to an earlier theory: The presidency was never a job Donald Trump wanted in the first place, and moves like decreasing his workday to seven hours is a way to wiggle out of it.

Could Sessions, humiliated several times by the big boss (after which he tried but failed to resign), be attempting a similar exit — a sort of suicide-by-cannabis?

Revoking the Cole Memo breaks a Trump campaign promise. It also makes the president look bad and unpopular, to little appreciable benefit. Trump doesn’t care about the former — and gives thought to else beyond the latter. Marijuana, Jeff Sessions’s bête noir, may yet prove to be his undoing.

TELL US, do you think Jeff Sessions should have revoked the Cole Memo?



  1. Rich

    January 23, 2018 at 5:36 am

    Harrison Narcotic Act of 1917 (The drafters played on fears of “drug-crazed, sex-mad negroes” and made references to Negroes under the influence of drugs murdering whites, degenerate Mexicans smoking marijuana, and “Chinamen” seducing white women with drugs. Dr. Hamilton Wright, testified at a hearing for the Harrison Act. Wright alleged that drugs made blacks uncontrollable, gave them superhuman powers and caused them to rebel against white authority. Dr. Christopher Koch of the State Pharmacy Board of Pennsylvania testified that “Most of the attacks upon the white women of the South are the direct result of a cocaine-crazed Negro brain”) It was updated/added to several times (1917, 1920, 1965, 1970) to give us what we have now.

    Well, it was both race and, OF COURSE, MONEY, MONEY, MONEY. What happened was that the Dupont’s of this world found out how to make “fabric” out of the sludge left over when oil is refined. We got dacron and nylon and orlon and so forth. SO, the hemp industry had to go. Remember, clothing was only made from natural fibers in those days–wool, cotton, or, if you were rich, silk from the Orient. SO, hemp was a cheap and strong addition to the clothing line, so it had to go. The Southern states’ reps were convinced to vote for it when they were told that if “negroes” (term of the time, sorry) and Mexicans (funny how that never went away, huh?) and “Chinamen” were to use Cannabis, they would want to have s_x with white women. Count those votes even today, of course, with “Little Jeffey” leading the parade. It was all a sham and remains one. The good news is that MONEY is all that is important to every human on the planet today, and the MONEY from Cannabis is trillions. It will remain, the Elf will get paid off, and all will be well after doofus leaves office.

  2. Nick

    January 22, 2018 at 8:13 am

    Right Wing Gun toating Republican Christian here.We are a very silent majority and we are all in for States Rights and Med.Pot.Also a Vet. on many Meds and nothing but pill pushers at the VA.I’m really worried I have already ruined my liver from all the Meds.Really wish we could have Hemp and Pot instead.And for all the Christians read the first part of you’re Bible don’t pick and choose.

  3. Cwick1036

    January 12, 2018 at 5:52 pm

    I prefer to think the AG is doing exactly what he is sworn to do, uphold the laws currently on the books. He hasn’t said or started any actions to strengthen the current laws, only removed the “memo” that allowed others to overlook the law. Regardless of what his personal views are he is 100% right with his actions and words as the AG. If so many elected officials are outraged then they, CONGRESS are the ones responsiable and have the power to chang the law. The AG enforces those laws. I don’t believe people are giving enought credit to how “smart” some of the actions the current administration really are or why they are doing things they way they are. Maybe the AG isn’t a asshat thats afraid of the Reefer Monster☠ but rather a guy that knows if he does a few little things it will cause enough people to be outraged those people may actually act as citizens and demand the people they elected to do their damn job instead of side stepping the issues. If cannabis had a multi trillion dollar lobby army behind them like the combined lobby team of big tobacco, alcohol, pharmaceutical, cotton, textile, energy, and every other sector that legal marijuana threatens to disrupt, maybe then our elected officials would vote and create laws We The People want.

    Instead of looking at the AG as a villain for doing his job; reach out to your congressional reps and demand they change the law. The AG said openly on several occasions that he will follow and enforce the law, if the will of the people is to have legal marijuana then the people (congress) must change the law.

    Just for the record: I’m pro legalization, I believe it’s almost criminal for marijuana or THC to be a schedule one narcotic, it is absolutely ridiculous. The laws need to change and only we can influence the people that we put into Congress to represent us to change the laws.

  4. TH

    January 12, 2018 at 2:37 pm

    No. He should not have done this.
    I would almost say they should make a bill that bans all keebler elves from holding office of any kind. Send him back to the north pole.

  5. Kate

    January 12, 2018 at 9:41 am

    If Sessions wants prohibition on marijuana than why doesn’t he get rid of alcohol as well, which is in reality, a dangerous drug. Statistics are indisputable regarding accidents, murders and rapes committed under the influence of alcohol,
    Along with the health problems related to alcohol.
    Marijuana has many proven medicinal benefits. Where are the medicinal benefits of alcohol?
    I guess Sessions is just a “good ol boy” who loves his alcohol. He’s a sickening hypocrite!
    Wasn’t he quoted as saying “I never saw anything wrong with the Ku Klux Klan until I found out they smoked pot”. The guy is sick and should be striped of any power.

    • sonny

      January 12, 2018 at 1:52 pm

      nicotine is worst than alcohol,it kills 120 people a day,it is also what sessions says is wrong with cannabis ,no medical benefits,and is highly addictive and kills people.

  6. Jerry

    January 12, 2018 at 9:40 am

    Jeff Session is a little weasel… He is just another official that doesn’t stand for for the people… Another good ole boy doing what he wants….

  7. Christopher SImmons

    January 12, 2018 at 8:20 am

    This Alabama “redneck” was ok with the Ku Klux Klan, until he found out that some of them smoked marijuana. Maybe, we need to look into the Keebler Elf’s history to see if he was apart of this cowardly organization, as he seems to be fixated on the mass incarceration of Black and Hispanic people.

  8. Christopher SImmons

    January 12, 2018 at 8:17 am

    Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, named after two dead Southern Civil War Generals (Jefferson Davis and PGT Beauregard), is a devout racist, avid investor in the American Prison Industrial Complex, and Major Benefector of the Big Pharma and Big Alcohol that gives over $150 million to corrupt politicians on Capitol Hill in order to keep Cannabis “illegal”, so that Cannabis doesn’t deplete their opiate (OxyContin, opioids, alcohol) profits. Opiates kill 50,000 young people per year, alcohol- millions, tobacco- hundreds of thousands, Cannabis-0 deaths, yet Sessions is fixated on vilifying cannabis because he’s getting paid to do so.

  9. jack eich

    January 11, 2018 at 5:37 pm

    leave it alone

  10. Tracy

    January 11, 2018 at 4:58 pm

    Brian Schatz is wrong in his history. Cannabis did not become illegal till 1937.

    • robert deen

      January 12, 2018 at 3:57 pm

      He is not wrong. He stated 1920’s style prohibition. Not that it started in the 1920’s. You are right about 1932. Do you know why it was prohibited in the first place? Race!

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