Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III will be the next Attorney General of the United States. Sessions is an Alabama senator. He has previously been criticized due to racial comments he has made. Republicans on a Senate committee stopped his nomination for federal judge in 1986 following comments he made (after former colleagues testified) such as: using the n-word, agreeing with someone who said a white lawyer who represents black defendants is a “race traitor” and addressing African-American lawyers as “boy.” Sessions also stated he considers the Voting Rights Act “an intrusive piece of legislation.”
His most repulsive comment was a “joke” saying he thinks the Ku Klux Klan is “okay, until he learned that they smoked marijuana.” Sessions is not enthusiastic about weed. Recently, at a Senate hearing this year; he said that “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” adding:
“We need grown-ups in charge in Washington saying marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought to be minimized, that it is in fact a very real danger. You can see the accidents, traffic deaths related to marijuana. And you’ll see cocaine and heroin increase more than it would have, I think.”
It has been proven to be false that marijuana is a “gateway drug.” Research results have also cast doubt on the traffic death claim. (When “age and alcohol are factored in,” The Washington Post reports, “THC didn’t appear to play huge role in deadly car accidents.”) Sessions’ negativity towards cannabis goes way back to the Reagan era. “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.’”
If Sessions gives the federal government orders to crack-down on users and dispensaries in legal-weed states, it would be in direct conflict with the “states’ rights” philosophy that supposedly governs modern conservatism. That is; however, what led him to refer to a federal law that defended the voting rights of African-American citizens in his state as “intrusive.”
It is quite obvious that the Drug War and race have some correlation. African-American defendants’ sentences are 20 percent longer than their white counterparts. As per the ACLU, African-Americans are more likely to be subject to two-strike and three-strike laws. This is horrible for nonviolent drug offenders (and disproportionate): A study from 2013 found over 3,000 people are currently in prison for life due to nonviolent drug crimes; of which sixty-five percent are black. In Louisiana (next to Sessions’ Alabama), ninety one percent of the prisoners serving life for nonviolent offenses were black.
It is no surprise Sessions is strongly against marijuana. The concern is whether or not Trump will allow him to do some damage. Trump stated during his campaign that marijuana policy was best left to the states. We will soon see if his administration will put their money where their mouth is.
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