The Corner

Jeff Sessions Is Wrong on Marijuana Policy

Conservatives are typically pleased with President-elect Trump’s selection of “law and order” Alabama senator Jeff Sessions as the next Attorney General of the United States. I have worked with Senator Sessions often in the past and I have enjoyed it very much. He is one of the few senators who is serious about reducing our debt and the country’s fiscal imbalances. More importantly, in my opinion, he doesn’t just pay lip service to reducing overspending — he is always pushing to make it a priority for other Republicans as well.

However, I can’t help but being concerned about his nomination as AG. I know it will come as a surprise — when both sides in Washington are often more than happy to abuse the powers of the executive office and other levels of government to achieve their goals — but the law is supposed to protect our individual liberties, not stomp all over them. In that regard, I am worried about having Senator Sessions become the next chief law-enforcement officer of the United States. I say this in part because when it comes to marijuana policy, his views are quite outdated.

For example, have a look at some of his comments from a Senate hearing on drugs back in April:

This drug is dangerous, you cannot play with it, it is not funny, it’s not something to laugh about . . . and [it’s important] to send that message with clarity that good people don’t smoke marijuana.

I am certainly not a drug user, but the idea that you can judge people’s “goodness” by someone’s marijuana use is problematic. If that’s the case, how about alcohol, cigarettes, carbohydrates, or anything else?

In addition, it is very out of touch with the rest of the country. Marijuana is no longer a fringe issue. In recent years, both the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana has gained legal acceptance in numerous states despite the federal government’s “war on drugs” remaining in effect. Indeed, marijuana’s resounding success on Election Day now means that “The War on Drugs Is Lost.” That was 30 years ago and it hasn’t been won since.

Also, in criticizing the Obama administration’s decision to not drop the federal hammer on those states that chose individual liberty over counterproductive prohibition, Sessions said this:

I think one of [Obama’s] great failures, it’s obvious to me, is his lax treatment in comments on marijuana. . . . It reverses 20 years almost of hostility to drugs that began really when Nancy Reagan started “Just Say No.”

Now, I will say that the Obama administration was wrong to restrict itself to a lack of enforcement of the outdated drug laws. By doing so, it left the door wide open for another administration — and for an AG committed to enforcing the laws on the books — to turn back the clock and start throwing people in jail for doing something that is legal in their state.

In addition, the “Just Say No” campaign didn’t work. Like alcohol prohibition, marijuana prohibition has come with a lot of cost and little, if any, benefit. Alcohol is arguably more dangerous than marijuana, yet I doubt Senator Sessions would support bringing back the 18th Amendment. As such, it’s high time we recognize the idiocy of the prohibition of marijuana.

For all the respect I have for senator Sessions, the budget hawk, I fear that Attorney General Jeff Sessions may use the Justice Department to trample on the will of the states and their citizens regarding marijuana. This isn’t just about the “right to get high.” This is about allowing the states to be laboratories of democracy and knocking the almighty federal government down a peg. One does not have to support marijuana, advocate for it, or use it to understand the problem with one man deciding he knows what’s best for everyone else in the country.