Will the current U.S. Attorney General listen to one of his predecessor's advice that the war on weed is a waste of time? Here's to hoping.
With 94 percent of the country supporting medical marijuana and 29 states and the District of Columbia having legalized pot for medical purposes — and still more moving in that direction — it would seem as if it’s only a matter of time before pot is legal in every state in the nation.
Of course, considerably fewer states have legalized recreational marijuana, and pot of any kind is still technically illegal at the federal level under the Controlled Substances Act. If you were to poll legalization advocates, however, you’d likely find them less concerned about those roadblocks than they are U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his prohibitionist views toward the drug.
Sessions has said that “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” and he discounts the benefits of medical marijuana, as well as research indicating the drug’s effectiveness in combating opioid abuse. And while Sessions hasn’t yet moved to reverse the trend of increased legalization, Alberto Gonzales, who served as attorney general during the administration of President George W, Bush, says Sessions would be wasting his time if he carried out his possible plans to prosecute medical marijuana distributors in states where pot is legal. According to Gonzales, there are many more important issues that need addressing than the fighting a war on weed.
“With respect to everything else going on in the U.S., this is pretty low priority," Gonzales told Newsweek.
Due to the Justice Department’s limited resources, Gonzales says, the agency needs to be focusing on bigger problems. He also points out that attorneys general don’t operate in a bubble when it comes to setting agency agendas.
“What people often fail to understand or appreciate, is that the attorney general works for the president,” he says. “While the attorney general has a great deal of say about law enforcement policy, so does the White House. When Jeff Sessions makes something, he responds to the White House.”
As of late, Sessions’ interactions with the White House have been dominated by other matters.
As ABC News notes, President Trump took issue with Sessions — and still might fire him — for his “weak” handling of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state. Also, as the New York Times reports, the president berated and humiliated Sessions in the Oval Office after Special Counsel Robert Mueller was tapped to lead the FBI investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Trump said little about cannabis on the campaign trail, and has been similarly quiet about it since taking office. And while in April Sessions directed a Justice Department task force to review Obama-era marijuana policy and offer suggestions for possible reforms, the task force failed to come up with anything. As a result, Sessions says Obama administration policy that allows states to legalize weed without interference from the feds will remain in effect.
How long will the policy remain in effect? Well, as Forbes reports, during a Senate hearing in October, Sessions conceded that allowing more researchers to legally grow more cannabis for scientific studies would be a “healthy” thing to do.
Maybe the current attorney general is starting to see eye to eye with the former attorney general. A war on weed is a waste.