The Trump administration's new War on Drugs is doomed to fail, according to the Koch network of conservative advocacy groups, which rivals the power and influence of the Republican National Committee in America.
“You are never going to win the war on drugs. Drugs won,” Mark Holden, a top Koch advisor, said last weekend during a retreat at The Broadmoor resort in Colorado -- the first state to legalize recreational cannabis back in 2012. So it was the perfect place for Holden to rebuke the Trump administration's plans to revive the "harsh sentencing era of the War on Drugs."
Holden was referring to the Sessions memo - a directive from Attorney General Jeff Sessions that called on federal prosecutors to pursue the harshest punishments available against drug offenders. The memo was a significant departure from the Obama administration's attempts to reform the criminal justice system and fix America's overcrowded prisons by reserving the toughest sentences for egregious drug offenders.
And that's not the only major change in the federal government's stance on drugs. Since taking office last February, Attorney General Sessions has also threatened a crackdown on Colorado and the seven other states that have legalized recreational marijuana despite federal prohibition still being in effect. And he's even asked Congress for permission to unleash the DEA on the 30 states that have legalized medical marijuana.
Holden said that medical marijuana should be “should be off-limits” to Sessions and the DEA. And while he and the Koch network don't support legalizing recreational marijuana, they do support the rights of individual states to make their own cannabis laws. “I’m not here to say our position is legalize drugs or anything else,” Holden added. "But I don’t think that we should criminalize those types of things and we should let the states decide.”
But it's unlikely that Trump or Sessions will listen to the Koch network. As Holden admitted, the administration's cannabis policy is "based on fear and emotion" rather than facts and common sense. But the network's position could sway the droves of Republican lawmakers hoping to get funding from Koch organizations.
Banner image: Mark Holden of Koch