United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions is no fan of marijuana, but his anti-pot crusades have mostly been confined to speeches. But according to experts, that could change very soon.
President Trump’s Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety, which is led by Sessions, is planning to release a report this week and many expect the committee will recommend harsher penalties for marijuana-related offenses.
“The task force revolves around reducing violent crime and Sessions and other DOJ officials have been out there over the last month and explicitly the last couple of weeks talking about how immigration and marijuana increases crime,” Inimai Chettiar, director of the Brennan Center’s Justice Program told The Hill.
In May, Sessions asked Congress to eliminate an amendment passed during the Obama administration that prohibits the Department of Justice from using resources to prevent states from implementing medical marijuana laws. And then last week Sessions re-established a controversial program that allows the DOJ to seize criminal assets as part of their investigations.
Despite Sessions’ rhetoric, there is very little evidence linking marijuana to criminal activity. Ronal Serpas, the former superintendent of the New Orleans Police Department, told The Hill, “That’s not the drug with which we see so much death and destruction on the streets of America. Crack and powered cocaine, heroin and opioids is where we’re seeing people die on street corners fighting over territory or control.”
Sessions’ anti-marijuana crusades may see some resistance from Congress. Republican Senator Rand Paul has publicly criticized the Attorney General for trying to interfere with states that legalized marijuana, and a bipartisan bill was introduced last month that would allow states to set their own medical marijuana laws.
President Trump’s position on marijuana, like many things, is unclear. On the campaign trail, Trump said he would leave marijuana legalization up to the states. But last month, he argued in favor of the DOJ interfering with state medical marijuana laws. But Trump’s waffling hasn’t stopped Sessions’ crusade yet, and there’s no reason to think that will change any time soon.