No, Jeff Sessions is Not Going to Give Marijuana Business Owners the Death Penalty

Earlier this week President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions advanced their new policy of asking federal prosecutors to seek the death penalty for drug traffickers. This led to people wondering whether that policy could be extended to marijuana business owners who sell a substantial amount of cannabis.

Let's be clear: no marijuana business owners are going to get the death penalty.

First of all, the actual memo Sessions sent out to prosecutors asking for them to seek the death penalty for drug traffickers only mentioned opioids as a drug to target. No other drugs were mentioned in the memo, including marijuana.

Second, it's not entirely clear that drug traffickers can even be sentenced to the death penalty. In 2008, the Supreme Court decided in Kennedy v. Louisana that crimes where a death does not occur cannot lead to a death sentence. The decision did leave the door open for death penalties for "drug kingpin activity," but the decision didn't outright state that the death penalty is acceptable in those cases either. If a drug trafficker were sentenced to death, that would almost certainly be challenged in court. So if it's not clear that drug dealers can be sentenced to death unless their product kills someone, then the idea that the courts will allow marijuana business owners to be executed for selling a drug that can't even lead to a death is ridiculous.

Also, Jeff Sessions may have ridiculous views on marijuana, but he's not that insane. Sessions hasn't even instituted a crackdown on legal marijuana states so far as Attorney General because he knows it would cause a backlash among voters and members of Congress. Do you really think that he's out of the blue going to begin executing dispensary owners? 

So while Sessions may have some ridiculously old-fashioned views on marijuana, there's absolutely no way cannabis business owners will be getting the death penalty. 

(h/t NBC News)


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