Interesting Read: “Did Jeff Sessions Just Increase the Odds Congress Will Make Marijuana Legal?”

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III wants marijuana to stay illegal, because petty drug convictions are a useful tool against all those people of color and young anarchists he hates (especially since many states forbid ‘felons’ from voting). Used to be that aging white Republicans were on Sessions’ side, because they had common enemies. Seems like the political calculations may have changed, per James Higdon, at Politico:

When Jeff Sessions announced Thursday morning he had removed the barrier that had held back federal prosecutors from pursuing marijuana cases in states that had made pot legal, he delivered on something he had all but promised when he was nominated as attorney general. Most of the marijuana world saw it coming, but they freaked out anyway.

A fund of marijuana-based stocks dropped more than 9 percent in value and, as a sign of how mainstream marijuana has become, Sessions’ decision to repeal the Cole Memo, an Obama-era protection for states that have legalized marijuana, even affected the stock price of Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, which dropped more than 5 percent. Business leaders in an industry that was worth $7.9 billion in 2017, called Sessions’ action revoking “outrageous” and “economically stupid.”

Capitol Hill screamed just as loudly. And it wasn’t just the Democratic members of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. It was Republican senators, too…

Thursday may well turn out to be a pivotal moment in the marijuana industry’s evolution as a political force. Nearly 70 percent of Americans believe in some form of legalized marijuana, but does the nascent industry have the sway to rewrite nearly 50 years of federal drug policy? Or will it remain a splintered coalition of investors, libertarians, concerned parents of sick kids, cancer sufferers, and traumatized veterans, who have the numbers but not the concentrated lobbying effort necessary to once and for all remove marijuana from the crosshairs of federal drug enforcement?

“There’s a lot of [legislators] trying to have it both ways who are now going to have to make up their mind,” said Tick Segerblom, the Nevada state senator who is considered the father of the state’s legalization movement. “Are they going to go with what the voters of their state support, or are they going to join Sessions and crack down and try to re-instate prohibition?”

Right now, the answer seems to be the former. Sessions’ antipathy for a drug that has lost much of its stigma among a wide cross section of Americans has only galvanized disparate factions in Congress to protect an industry that is expected to generate $2.3 billion in state tax revenue by 2020…

The fact that marijuana has now risen to the height of top-tier budget negotiations is a sign that the pro-marijuana coalition is no longer merely a menagerie of loud-mouth hippies, stoners, and felons, as the pro-pot crowd has been characterized in the past. The community of Americans who now rely on legal medical marijuana, estimated to be 2.6 million people in 2016, includes a variety of mainstream constituency groups like veterans, senior citizens, cancer survivors, and parents of epileptic children. The American Legion, a conservative veterans organization by any measure, has voted twice in favor of resolutions to expand research and safe access for its members.

As of late Friday, POLITICO Magazine could not find a single member of Congress who had issued a statement in support of Sessions’ actions. In the end, this is a self-inflicted pot crisis that could prove to be a critical test of Trump’s ability to maintain his base.

“There’s a lot of old white men who are marijuana users, and the marijuana is keeping them alive,” Segerblom said from his cell phone while driving around Las Vegas. “Trump is going to have fewer to vote for him if he doesn’t keep marijuana legal.”






58 replies
  1. 1
    Patricia Kayden says:

    So Sessions inadvertently may do some good?

  2. 2
  3. 3
    Ian G. says:

    Yeah, in my experience, Gen X and Millennial conservatives are just as likely to be stoners as the hippies. Sessions doesn’t understand that because he’s a fossilized caricature of the people who spat on the Little Rock 9, but he’s about to learn that it isn’t 1957 anymore.

  4. 4
    Baud says:

    @Patricia Kayden: We’ll see. I’ve had my fill of stories about how this or that issue will sink the GOP or usher in a better tomorrow.

    But no reason we shouldn’t try to milk this for all it’s worth.

  5. 5
    oatler. says:

    I don’t see congress doing anything positive about cannabis. It’s how they are.

  6. 6
    MattF says:

    This has broader implications for the “if Obama was for it, I’m against it” voting block. The only impetus for lots of R policies is that ‘Obama did it.’

  7. 7
    dmsilev says:

    @Patricia Kayden: It was an accident and he promises to never let it happen again.

  8. 8
    Tilda Swintons Bald Cap says:

    No.

  9. 9
    germy says:

    Legal or not, law enforcement will still have lots of opportunities to f**ck with users.

    Many people in the U.S. are car-dependent and can’t rely on public transportation to get them to and from work.

    THC lasts much longer in the body than alcohol. (The heaviest drinker can test negative if he simply abstains for a day)

    Law enforcement can get a “he tests positive for pot!” result from any driver who has consumed, even if it was a month ago. A non-impaired driver can be charged with DUI after a stop for a broken tail light or any other minor thing if the cop wishes.

  10. 10
    laura says:

    It would be nice to have some serious peer reviewed studies of the medical efficacy of cannabis and it’s practical uses that don’t require enriching big Pharma.
    And it’d be even nicer if Jeffbo ate a bag of salted dicks.

  11. 11
    The Thin Black Duke says:

    I think Lenny Bruce nailed it years ago:

    Marijuana will be legal someday, because the many law students who now smoke pot will one day be Congressmen and they will legalize it to protect themselves.

    Plus, there’s too much money in legal pot now. When the republican governor of Colorado is telling Sessions to go fuck himself, you know things have changed.

  12. 12
    mai naem mobile says:

    I think there might too many old fart Republican and Democratic Congress critters to pass something. Also, I wonder if possible 2020 POTUS candidates from the Senate might shy away from voting for something and cone up with some bs reason.

  13. 13
    eric says:

    What matters more that will they do it (i dont think so), is how will it resonate in purple/red districts. For a long time ‘gay-marriage’ was the issue to scare suburban voters, whereas now it cuts the other way, Will legalization have that same bite back effect?

  14. 14
    Humdog says:

    Even California did not pass recreational pot thru the legislature, it was voter referendum. With big tobacco and big pharmaceutical against it, not to mention big alcohol against it, I cannot see it getting thru the national legislature. It should have had its schedule changed at the end of a Democratic presidency, so now I fear we will have to wait for that again.
    That said, I do think Sessions can be beaten back on federal enforcement by the Senate.

  15. 15
    Another Scott says:

    @germy: Yup.

    How does Colorado handle this? How will California?

    DenverPost from April:

    “We’ve been arresting for marijuana for a long time,” he said. “There’s no sure sign somebody is impaired by alcohol or drugs. It’s the trooper’s personal contact after a stop, along with their driving behavior. Troopers have been trained in advance for detecting alcohol and marijuana and other prescription drugs.”

    During the month of March in 2016, marijuana-related citations made up 17.8 percent of 337 total DUIs. In March 2017, marijuana-related citations made up 16.4 percent of 396 total DUIs. There was a year-over-year decrease from seven to three fatal alcohol- and drug-related crashes in the same span.

    The implication is that they’re using behavioral tests (rather than doing blood tests on the scene), but I dunno.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  16. 16
    Doug R says:

    @MattF:

    This has broader implications for the “if Obama was for it, I’m against it” voting block. The only impetus for lots of R policies is that ‘Obama did it.’

    This may be why Obama didn’t push for legalization, he didn’t want the tea party to get dug in on this.

  17. 17
    cmorenc says:

    Sessions is the prototype southerner old enough to hold an idealized memory of 1950s southern society that seems to their recollection and sensibility, stable, orderly, and moral, which got asundered by the social, cultural, and political upheavals of the following decades – during which degenerately wrongheaded people (both in leadership and general society) have been allowed to push the country astray. They pine for a chance to return toward this imaginary southern version of “Happy Days” 1950s society. Of course, this idealized memory glosses over the uglier social and economic realities for everyone but secure upper-middle class or patrician southern whites, but facts aren’t about to get in the way of the fantasies of retrograde southern idealists like Jeff Sessions.

    It’s a gross oversimplification to see Sessions’ passion for the AG post as purely to implement racist policies to oppress blacks, with the grossly disproportionate impact of resuming enforcement of harsh marijuana prohibitions as one facet thereof. True, there are some inextricable racial themes in this southern 50s nostalgic worldview sessions has – but his hangup about undoing legal tolerance for marijuana is better understood in context as part of a far more ambitious effort to return to the overall idealized cultural / legal status quo of the 1950s he disremembers beyond just its racial aspects. It’s an effort to go back to a time when right-thinking culturally, morally sensible people ran things (thinking of himself as the epitome of such folks).

  18. 18
    cmorenc says:

    @The Thin Black Duke:

    Plus, there’s too much money in legal pot now. When the republican governor of Colorado is telling Sessions to go fuck himself, you know things have changed.

    You mean, the Republican US Senator (Cory Gardner) R-Colorado, not the current (Democratic) governor, John Hickenlooper. It’s Gardener who read the riot act to Sessions, threatening to bottle up all further judicial nominees in the Senate Judiciary committee unless Sessions relents.

  19. 19
    Baud says:

    @cmorenc:

    It’s a gross oversimplification to see Sessions’ passion for the AG post as purely to implement racist policies to oppress blacks, 

    No, it’s not.

  20. 20
    germy says:

    @laura:

    It would be nice to have some serious peer reviewed studies of the medical efficacy of cannabis and it’s practical uses that don’t require enriching big Pharma.

    Or enriching the health fraud folks.

    Unfortunately, the hucksters are jumping on the train:
    https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/medical-marijuana-as-the-new-herbalism-part-3-a-cannabis-cures-cancer-testimonial/

  21. 21
    Yarrow says:

    Isn’t there some issue internationally with us legalizing marijuana? Something about how we forced a bunch of other countries to make it illegal so there are treaties with that requirement in it. If we legalize it then we’re in violation of treaties.

  22. 22
    Formerly disgruntled in Oregon says:

    @oatler.: Certainly true for REPUBLICANS in Congress. When Democrats take things back, that’s gonna change. A multi-billion dollar industry needs some basic regulatory normalization, for starters…

  23. 23
    Schlemazel says:

    Sunday Morning had a clown on who is leading a repeal effort in Colorado. He was hilarious! He kept referring to it as “big marijuana’ in an attempt to tie is to tobacco & claimed there was an effort to make smoking pot in restaurants legal. I am guessing the reporter is a user as he actually called the clown out on that one. I couldn’t help but wish they were as forceful about political BS.

  24. 24
    kindness says:

    Sessions doesn’t care what anyone else thinks. He’s on a mission to reinstate the 1850s. And look, we’ve seen this picture before. Some ‘principled’ Repub (Susan Collins like) will make lofty statements and then not stop the bad policy. Vote for it in fact. I don’t think the Feds will get any help busting people in the states that have legalized. The tax base alone stops that. But I think Sessions will sic the DEA on some of the larger California outlets. Because. Because Hippie Punching blue states and the whole felony charges things. I don’t see Republicans from other states lift a finger to stop it. Posturing means nothing. Only actions count.

  25. 25
    cmorenc says:

    @Baud:

    @cmorenc:

    It’s a gross oversimplification to see Sessions’ passion for the AG post as purely to implement racist policies to oppress blacks,

    No, it’s not.

    Yes, racist policies are a core part of Sessions’ motivations, but viewing Sessions solely in those terms is a misunderstanding of the overall worldview context which drives him. I grew up in the south, and knew numerous men of that generation (including one of my best childhood friends) who are just like Sessions, only at more local levels. They are driven by a nostalgia for the idealized culture and society of the 1950s south – of which race is an inextricable key element, but that’s not the sole motivating important element. It’s pining for return of an imagined lost chivalrous “golden world” they misremember as having existed 60+ years ago.

  26. 26
    Formerly disgruntled in Oregon says:

    @mai naem mobile: Most of the potential Dem 2020 Pres candidates I’m tracking (who are all Senators) have either publicly rebuked Sessions’ latest overreach, and/or recently advocated for decriminalization at the Federal level. Gillibrand, Booker, Harris… Only other probable candidate I can predict today is Cuomo (ugh). I doubt he’d be much help on this issue.

  27. 27
    Schlemazel says:

    @Formerly disgruntled in Oregon:
    Or any issue, really.

  28. 28
    Formerly disgruntled in Oregon says:

    @Schlemazel: LOLs 😅

  29. 29
    germy says:

    @Formerly disgruntled in Oregon: Cuomo allowed medicinal cannabis in NY. At first it was just allowed for people dying of late-stage cancers, but it’s being expanded to treat PTSD.

  30. 30
    Formerly disgruntled in Oregon says:

    @germy: Good – glad to see there is such broad consensus on the direction our country should move on this issue.

  31. 31
    pluky says:

    “Petty drug convictions are a useful tool against all those people of color and young anarchists he hates (especially since many states forbid ‘felons’ from voting).”

    FTW! Thank you for pointing this out.

  32. 32
    pluky says:

    @Baud: Absolutely. It’s the determinant of his behavior. Everything else is an error correction term in the model.

  33. 33
    KickBoxBanana says:

    My guess is that the private prison lobby is probably partly behind this. So it will be those entrenched interests vs a newly cashed up marijuana industry lobby.

  34. 34
    Formerly disgruntled in Oregon says:

    @KickBoxBanana: hahaha “cashed” 😂😂😂

    (It’s funny because cannabis businesses don’t have the same access to banking services that other industries rely on.)

  35. 35
    Formerly disgruntled in Oregon says:

    @KickBoxBanana: Hopefully a modicum of justice will be taken into consideration, and not lost in the $$$ struggle.

  36. 36
    Doug R says:

    Note the band of legal medical states (except skinny Idaho) next to the border of a large country that’s getting legal weed “next summer, I didn’t say July 1st”: PM Justin Trudeau.

  37. 37

    Congress would approve making marijuana legal if it were voted on. McConnell and Ryan are spiteful shits who will never let it come to the floor. They have no position on the issue, they’re just assholes.

    Someone might convince Sessions privately to reverse this decision. Doesn’t seem likely, given his record and attitudes, but it could happen.

    @cmorenc:
    You are right that Sessions and ilk have a whole 1950s fantasy and it has broader elements than race. All the ‘traditional family values’ are stuff the 50s claimed was normal that were not traditions pre-WW2. However, the whole drive that created this movement was anger over desegregation, and it is overwhelmingly the largest part of the fantasy.

  38. 38
    KickBoxBanana says:

    @Formerly disgruntled in Oregon: You seem to be under the illusion that the US is still a properly functioning democracy.

  39. 39
    No Drought No More says:

    I’ve watched The Marijuana Story In America play itself out for over half a century, and now know how U.S. Grant felt when he bided his time before the fall of Richmond. All Sessions has accomplished to date is to delay the inevitable by another few years, or so long as he remains in office tick tick tick.

    Even before mention of lost tax revenues, a journalist (or congressional democrat) should ask Sessions who he thinks cops would rather deal with: an ugly drunk in an ugly situation, or a spaced out stoner? Tokers now demand to be left in peace, is all, to live out their lives without living in fear of the government of their inheritance. Because when you get down to brass tacks, that’s the bottom line, that’s why legalization is inevitable. That, and the fact it’s a billion dollar industry in the offing, tantalizingly close to being exploited.

  40. 40
    Rosalita says:

    and now that they are moving to privatized prisons, busting people will be a revenue stream

  41. 41
    Adam C says:

    To me the question is how many legislators’ investment portfolios are already into the cannabis industry. That will spur them to action.

  42. 42
    TriassicSands says:

    @Baud: j

    Agreed. It seems best to keep expectations fairly low and opposition energy high. Predictions that people who voted for Trump will turn on him because of Sessions’ cracking down on marijuana seem to ignore how often the GOP has screwed its supporters without any resulting losses at the polls.

    With any luck, Sessions will find himself out of a job — sooner rather than later. Of course, Trump won’t pick anyone remotely good to succeed Sessions, but it is difficult to imagine how he could do worse. Just as bad? No problem, but at least we’d have the satisfaction that we won’t have to worry about Sessions until he runs for senator in Alabama.

  43. 43
    TriassicSands says:

    @cmorenc:

    I think yours is a fair point. Very few people have a single energizing principle in life. On the other hand, a big part of what made the 1950s so desirable to Sessions was undoubtedly that African Americans “knew” their place (in his mind) and were not permitted to be full citizens or human beings.

  44. 44
    Percysowner says:

    @cmorenc:

    It’s a gross oversimplification to see Sessions’ passion for the AG post as purely to implement racist policies to oppress blacks, with the grossly disproportionate impact of resuming enforcement of harsh marijuana prohibitions as one facet thereof.

    Yeah, he want women to be “put in their place” as well. I’m tired of trying to see these guys in some soft glow light, where there hearts are in the right place but they are blinded by false memories of how the world worked. They LIKE hurting people, period. They want to be able to see themselves as superior because of skin color and because they have a wang. They want anyone who is too dark and who doesn’t have wang to bow down and recognize their rightful masters. And I’m not going to sugar coat that.

  45. 45
    Wild Cat says:

    @The Thin Black Duke:

    Seems like three generations of ambulance chasers has passed without much progress, really.
    Maybe it’s time to reconsider the prophecies of stand-up junkies?

  46. 46
    Wag says:

    @The Thin Black Duke: I’m, I think that you’re talking about Senator Gardner. Governor Hickenlooper is a democrat.

    But yeah, a GOP state-wide Colorado elected official did tell Sessions to go to hell.

  47. 47
    FlipYrWhig says:

    How soon before weed is considered a “special interest” and then “establishment”? “Pfft, of course $POLITICIAN supports Big Weed, he’s so corporate.”

  48. 48
    Vhh says:

    @TriassicSands: Much better to keep Sessions as an emasculated laughingstock waiting for Mueller to nail on conspiracy.

  49. 49
    B.B.A. says:

    Jeff Sessions is a racist, but he’s not just a racist. His drug-warrior bona fides were on display in his “joke” that he liked the KKK until he learned they smoke pot.

  50. 50
    B.B.A. says:

    @germy: Under protest, insisting that marijuana is a gateway drug and this was not the first step towards legalization the whole time.

    (Frankly, I thought the claims of “medicinal” use have always been a paper-thin cover for stoners getting stoned, and the NY rule of extracts only, nothing smokeable or edible, was a fine way to call that bluff. I want legal pot but I don’t pretend it’s medicine.)

  51. 51
    Matt says:

    @cmorenc:

    The first commissioner of what would eventually be the DEA disagrees:

    Harry Anslinger, the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (an early predecessor of the DEA), was one of the driving forces behind pot prohibition. He pushed it for explicitly racist reasons, saying, “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men,” and:

    “There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the U.S., and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.”

    The main reason to prohibit marijuana, he said was “its effect on the degenerate races.” (And god forbid women should sleep with entertainers!)

    (from https://www.thefix.com/content/Maia-Szalavitz-pot-addiction-health2100 )

    Banning it in the 30s was predicated entirely on twaddle like the above and a desire to turn loose law enforcement on “undesirables” that smoked it. There’s no “well, it’s only kinda because racism” here.

  52. 52
    SC54HI says:

    None other than Michelle Malkin favors decriminalization & legal use of marijuana since her family members, including a daughter, have benefitted from it medically.

  53. 53
    cmorenc says:

    @Percysowner:

    @cmorenc:

    It’s a gross oversimplification to see Sessions’ passion for the AG post as purely to implement racist policies to oppress blacks, with the grossly disproportionate impact of resuming enforcement of harsh marijuana prohibitions as one facet thereof.

    Yeah, he want women to be “put in their place” as well. I’m tired of trying to see these guys in some soft glow light, where there hearts are in the right place but they are blinded by false memories of how the world worked. They LIKE hurting people, period. They want to be able to see themselves as superior because of skin color and because they have a wang. They want anyone who is too dark and who doesn’t have wang to bow down and recognize their rightful masters. And I’m not going to sugar coat that.

    The main intent of my post was to point out that Sessions’ desire to roll back marijuana legalization isn’t solely or even mainly based on the disproportionate racial impacts prohibition enforcement has had, though that’s no doubt delicious frosting on the cake for Sessions. Rather, it’s based more broadly on the perceived threat legal pot poses in Sessions’ mind to moving society back to a restoration of America’s imagined social/cultural glory days of the 1950s (as Sessions gauzily misremembers it). Yeah, there’s plenty of misogyny and other bigotries motivating Sessions as well, but his resentments of these things are wrapped up in how continued tolerance of degenerate (in his mind) modern cultural momentum interferes with the potential restoration of America to the hazy golden picture he has of America (particularly deep south America) circa 1955.

  54. 54
    John Fremont says:

    @The Thin Black Duke: Reminds me of a comedian I saw in Denver 25 years ago.

    “They say Anthony Kennedy shouldn’t be made a Supreme Court Justice because he smoked pot back in college. If that is still affecting his judgment, that must’ve been some really good sh*t!”

  55. 55
    John Fremont says:

    @Wag: Money talks. Many municipalties that allow marijuana sales within city limits have benefitted from the revenue it brings in.

  56. 56
    J R in WV says:

    I grew up in the southern WV coal fields in the 50s, and there was bad poverty and unemployment all around back then. We took family vacations driving through the pre-interstate highway south. There were pieces of interstate separated by miles of dusty roads through very rural red-dirt farmland.

    It was shocking to me to see black families living in board shacks on the edge of fields – these were century-old slave cabins still in daily use by share croppers. I didn’t know all that when I saw it at 9 or 10 years old, but I do now. Even more shocking was the “Colored Only” signs on shabby outhouses behind gas stations, the “White Only” signs on water coolers, all over the south.

    Worse, those sentiments were still on the surface when I was in Mississippi and Alabama serving in the Navy. You could be forced to sell to the black community and be sure you would never see a dark skinned customer with a sign like “All proceeds from sales to N****rs will be donated to the KKK” over the cash register, which was the case in 1972 and 1973.

    Sessions wants to return to this era in our history. He is THAT despicable. There was nothing honorable about white culture in the South from 1850 to 1973 at least.

    People who allow other people, hell require other people to live in squalor, to step into a gutter to allow a white man to pass on the sidewalk, are despicable people. Sessions is one of them. Those vacations we visited battlefield parks from the Revolution and the Civil War, walked in that little farmhouse at Appomattox, but the real learning experiences for me was seeing those “Whites Only” and “Colored Only” signs, and those slave shacks still being lived in. I will never forget the signs, proud enough to be publicly evil and depraved to put up a sign about it. OMG!

    I don’t pretend to or want to be able to read Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III’s mind, which would be a nightmare First Class. But his motives for everything are evil, that’s who he is.

  57. 57
    Heywood J. says:

    Wasn’t “Tick Segerblom” a character in a Thomas Pynchon novel?

  58. 58
    J R in WV says:

    @John Fremont:

    A friend, doctor in Colorado, tells me schools in his county, which has lost huge amounts of economy in heavy industry since he started practice there, is rebuilding schools with cannabis taxes. Sounds good to me.

    I expect WV will legalize and tax cannabis long after any chance to make any real large amount of money from it. It will be a tax on ourselves, as opposed to a severance tax on valuable exports. You can’t really recover an economic engine with a consumption tax. You can improve your infrastructure, like repairing schools.

    It won’t ever replace exhausted mines, though. Or depleted oil and gas fields, either.

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