It’s beginning to look like Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions in on his way to becoming the next Attorney General of the United States.
On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved Sessions for the job as the nation’s leading law enforcement hammer in a vote of 11-to-9. Not a single Democrat showed up for the vote. It is now up to the Republican-dominated Senate to determine whether Sessions should be deemed the official leader of the U.S. Justice Department under the Trump Administration. That vote is schedule to take place at some point next week.
National marijuana advocacy groups fear the confirmation of Sessions as the next Attorney General could spell the demise of marijuana legalization as we have come to know it.
“If the Senate approves Jeff Sessions as Attorney General they will be elevating a true believer in outdated reefer madness rhetoric to the highest law enforcement post in the land,” Erik Altieri, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) said in a statement.
“Until we have explicit confirmation from the Trump Administration or Senator Sessions himself that the federal government will not interfere with state marijuana laws, we are urging Senators to stand up for the will of the voters and the 60 percent of the country that supports legalization and ‘just say no’ to Sessions for Attorney General.”
Other cannabis reform supporters also chimed in.
“Jeff Sessions is a disaster for drug policy and criminal justice reform,” said Bill Piper, senior director for Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of National Affairs. “He is a nightmare for medical marijuana patients, and will destroy families and communities by amplifying the mass incarceration crisis.”
Although no one knows exactly what the Trump Administration plans to do with respect to legal marijuana, Sessions, who has criticized the Obama Administration’s hands off approach to marijuana legalization, recently suggested that he might turn the entire cannabis industry upside down by leaning on the language of the Controlled Substances Act.
"I will not commit to never enforcing Federal law,” Sessions said in a statement. “Whether an arrest and investigation of an individual who may be violating the law is appropriate is a determination made in individual cases based on the sometimes unique circumstances surrounding those cases, as well as the resources available at the time."
Still, some members of the cannabis industry say “money and jobs” will prevent Sessions from lifting a finger to try and stop the progress the movement has made throughout the past several years.
Some of the latest data shows that the cannabis industry could be worth $50 billion by 2026 – creating tens of thousands of new jobs, while also contributing to the renewal of the middle class.