Jeff Sessions is on record saying that “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” so what will he say in the Senate hearings for his confirmation as the next Attorney General of the United States? The hearings began today, and MassRoots will provide you frequent updates as to what is said during the hearings, and how they are proceeding.
Latest Update on Sessions Hearing
Numerous people spoke out Wednesday against and in support of Jeff Sessions’ nomination following his personal testimony on Tuesday, but no new issues came to light, and there was no further mention of marijuana or the marijuana industry.
After the hearing, Cory Booker, a Democratic Senator from New Jersey, spoke out passionately and bravely against the Sessions nomination. Hopefully this speech starts a strong chain reaction among other Senators to do what is best for our country. See the video below:
Today I broke with Senate tradition and testified against the nomination of one of my colleagues, Senator Jeff Sessions. I believe that in the choice between standing with Senate norms or standing up for what my conscience tells me is best for our country, I will always choose conscience and country. Senator Sessions has not demonstrated a commitment to a central requirement of the job as Attorney General—to aggressively pursue the congressional mandate of civil rights, equal rights, and justice for all. In fact, at numerous times in his career, he has demonstrated a hostility toward these convictions, and has worked to frustrate attempts to advance these ideals. If confirmed, Senator Sessions will be required to pursue justice for women, but his record indicates that he won’t. He will be expected to defend the equal rights of gay and lesbian Americans, but his record indicates that he won’t. He will be expected to defend voting rights, but his record indicates that he won’t. He will be expected to defend the rights of immigrants and affirm their human dignity, but his record indicates he won’t. His record indicates that as Attorney General he would obstruct the growing national bipartisan movement toward criminal justice reform. His record indicates that we cannot count on him to support state and national efforts toward bringing justice to a justice system that people on both sides of the aisle readily admit is biased against the poor, drug addicted, mentally ill, and people of color. The next Attorney General must bring hope and healing to our country, and this demands a more courageous empathy than Senator Sessions’ record demonstrates. Jeff Sessions should not be our next Attorney General—I oppose his nomination and hope you will join me in speaking out.
Posted by Cory Booker on Wednesday, January 11, 2017
First Update on Sessions Hearing Concerning Marijuana and Federal Law
— Fox News (@FoxNews) January 10, 2017
Mike Lee stated: “Did the way the Obama administration handled marijuana legalization sit well with you, in terms of both federalism and the separation of powers. Did the DOJ’s decision to not prosecute cannabis sellers and consumers in legalized states “contravene the understanding that Congress is the lawmaking body?”
Sessions responded: “One obvious concern is that Congress has made the possession of marijuana in every state an illegal act. If that is not desired any longer, Congress should pass a law to change it.” Sessions also noted that “It’s not the attorney general’s job to decide which laws to enforce,” indicating that it’s not his responsibility and he will still follow the existing state laws.
Senator Leahy asked if Sessions would use “federal resources to investigate and prosecute sick people who are using marijuana in accordance” with state laws. Sessions responded that he “won’t commit to never enforcing federal law” but that resources won’t allow the government to prosecute all the marijuana users in the nation, and that “some of [the laws] are truly valuable” but the Cole memo guidelines for the industry may “not have been followed.”
Sessions determined that the marijuana cases “will be mine” and that he will judge them in a fair way. Sessions also told Leahy that he will not continue to call for the death penalty for second-time marijuana offenders, as he has in the past.
What Did Senator Sessions Say in Tuesday’s Hearing?
Sessions’ prepared remarks noted that he will not be a puppet of Donald Trump’s administration, and that he respects the rule of law strongly. The beginning of Sessions’ remarks were interrupted by protestors inside the courtroom repeatedly, and he was called “a pig” in the “fascist regime” of Trump’s administration. Topics Sessions’ touched on:
- His respect for the rule of law and the U.S. Constitution
- He will not be a “rubber stamp” decisions according to Trump, but incoming Press Secretary Sean Spicer noted, “When you come into a Trump admin, it’s the Trump agenda.”
- He will prosecute “those who repeatedly violate our borders:
- He will “partner” with law enforcement to bring drug-trafficking cartels and gangs to justice
- He will rely on “aggressive” local law enforcement to prevent police deaths and community violence
- 10% increase in crime over the past two years
- Repeatedly cited illegal drug overdose for U.S. deaths
- Calls the role of the Attorney General an “immense responsibility”
- Said he “deeply” understands the history of civil rights and the horrendous impact that relentless and system discrimination and denial of voting rights has had on our African-American brothers and sisters (what about other people of color? Do they not count?)
- Voter fraud case in 1986 and KKK remarks: “Damnably false charges”
Who is Jeff Sessions?
Jeff Sessions is Alabama’s Republican Senator, and U.S. president-elect Donald Trump’s selection for the Attorney General of the United States. Sessions was a country boy, growing up outside Selma, Alabama, and received a Juris Doctorate from the University of Alabama in 1973. He served in the United States Army Reserve from 1973 to 1986, and he became an attorney in Mobile, his current home. He served as Assistant United States Attorney for Alabama’s Southern District for two years, the United States Attorney for the same region for 12 years, and then the Alabama Attorney General for two years. He entered the U.S. Senate in 1997, and has served there for 20 years.
What Does Jeff Sessions Believe In?
According to Sessions’ website, the Senator’s performance in the U.S. Senate has been focused mainly on upholding the rule of law, limiting the role of government in state policies, keeping the military strong, and providing tax relief and economic stimulus plans to help Americans. Sessions has repeatedly voted to help U.S. veterans with jobs, healthcare, and other needs they have following service in the U.S. military – here’s hoping he can also recognize the help that marijuana and its products can bring to veterans victimized, ignored, and dismissed by a healthcare system that cares more about pharmaceutical sales than it does about their health. Sessions has voted against Planned Parenthood funding by the Federal government, and has voted yea and nay on awarding grants to an inter-agency task force for the purpose of investigating the U.S. opioid epidemic. Sessions voted to increase penalties for illegal immigrants, and voted to disapprove two different EPA regulations intended to prevent greenhouse gas emissions and carbon pollution on our planet. Sessions has supported economically-affordable housing, transportation, and Bill S. 178, a bill to provide justice for victims of human trafficking. Sessions, just like any of us, is a person with faults and strengths – but is he the person we want running the U.S. Department of Justice? Is he the person we want making decisions about the legality of established state regulations on marijuana and hemp? Is he the person we want making decisions in a justice system that has been proven to be harder on people of color than whites? The answer to that question has already been decided by many people, but over the next two days, the committee reviewing Sessions’ character will try to determine if he is fit for the post.
Why Is the Marijuana Industry Concerned About Jeff Sessions Becoming the Next U.S. Attorney General?
Sessions has repeatedly shown a negative and prohibitive position on marijuana legalization, as has his Attorney General confirmation hearing colleague Dianne Feinstein. Sessions has stated that marijuana is “a very real danger” and “is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized.” A fellow attorney testified back in 1986 that Sessions said (jokingly or not) that the KKK was all right until he found out they smoked marijuana. The marijuana industry is watching closely to see if Sessions will mention his stance on marijuana, and wondering what it will mean for the industry and American businesses as a whole. If Sessions is confirmed in the position of Attorney General, he will have the power to roll back state laws (although his own website states that he believes in upholding states’ power) and to uphold the Federal illegality of marijuana across the nation. That’s not to say that he will – but with power comes great temptation to exercise that power. With Sessions at the helm, Alabama has refused to legalize marijuana, and possession of any amount carries a draconian one year in prison and a $6,000 fine. Enforcement of federal laws could result in businesses shutting down, people losing their jobs, patients unable to obtain their medications, and ultimately an economic slump.
What Did Senators Say in Tuesday’s Hearing?
In the first hearing, Senator Chuck Grassley (Republican Judiciary Committee Chair from Iowa) noted that he and Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein were there not to introduce Sessions, who has been a Republican Senator since 1997, and served as the Alabama Attorney General for two years. Grassley stated that the purpose of the hearing was to “review the character and the qualifications of a colleague,” and said that he was “wonderful to work with,” and “always a gentleman.” Sessions appeared on camera in the first hearing with his granddaughter on his lap, and denied the claims that he is racist and made racist comments in 1986 when he was refused the judgeship he applied for with the U.S. Federal government. Feinstein noted that the next Attorney General must not perform directives given by the POTUS, but “must ensure that the law and the constitution come first” and be a lawyer to the people of the United States, not to Donald Trump. Feinstein emphasized Sessions’ past record of voting against hate crime bills, immigration reform bills, and even waterboarding prevention bills.
MassRoots will continue to monitor the hearings and add to this article in the next 48 hours. Check back for updates!