President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General is worrisome to many supporters of cannabis legalization, despite Trump’s campaign promise to keep out of state marijuana laws.
While some activists and cannabis professionals were hopeful due to Trump’s campaign statements that supported states’ rights, others criticized Sessions’ public stance against cannabis and criminal justice reform. He’s said, “Good people don’t smoke marijuana,” and once joked that the KKK was “OK until I found out they smoked pot.”
Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, who has been a vocal champion of the issue in Congress, told McClatchy DC that the thought of an Attorney General Sessions is “deeply disturbing,” and is advocating for the Senate to reject his nomination.
However, Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California has been optimistic about state-legal cannabis under Sessions. Rohrabacher has also been a vocal supporter of marijuana legalization, being the first sitting Congressman to admit to using medical marijuana while in office. He co-sponsored the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which protects state-level medical marijuana programs from federal interference.
In an interview with Marijuana Business Daily, Rohrabacher defended Sessions and expressed optimism for the future of cannabis: “I’m certain that Jeff Sessions, being a man of high integrity, will not be undermining his president’s position and (will) be enforcing what Trump wants rather than what Sessions has done in the past.”
Reports citing unnamed sources have recently said that Rohrabacher is a contender for Trump’s Secretary of State appointment. He could be talking up a Trump administration while angling for a position. But if he does indeed snag a leadership appointment, it would be heartening to cannabis advocates knowing that a pro-cannabis lawmaker has the ear of the president.
One source told the Washington Examiner that “this is percolating through the system and [Rohrabacher’s] the dark horse is emerging from the back of the pack.”
In another twist, Sessions’ staff met with activists from the D.C. Cannabis Campaign on Nov. 28. They were unexpectedly welcomed into his Capitol office after insinuating that they might engage in what they called a “smoke sessions” civil disobedience.
“We had to pretend we might smoke marijuana in your office to get attention,” the Campaign’s co-founder Adam Eidinger admitted.
Rather than call security, Session’s communications director Chris Jackson told them, “You’re being legitimate. We appreciate that.”
Sessions’ staff listened to the activists’ worries over the senator’s previous anti-cannabis comments. “Don’t think we will not be having this conversation with him,” Jackson explained. “You’ve made yourselves known, so this is something we are going to have to talk to him about.”
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