Anti-Marijuana Attorney General Jeff Sessions Resigns

By Victoria Kim 11/09/18

“Our hope is the next attorney general will recognize that it is not politically popular to escalate the war on drugs,” said one drug reform advocate.

Jeff Sessions issued his resignation the day after midterms.

Jeff Sessions is out as U.S. Attorney General.

The former U.S. Senator from Alabama resigned on Wednesday (Nov. 7), a day after the midterm elections.

“At your request I am submitting my resignation,” Sessions wrote in a letter to the White House. His chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, will serve as acting attorney general until a permanent replacement is found.

Sessions’ departure from the Department of Justice is cause for celebration among drug policy reform advocates.

“He’s been an absolute disgrace on drug policy. We would welcome any attorney general whose policy ideas would move beyond the 1980s,” said Michael Collins, interim director of national affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance.

The 71-year-old former Alabama senator’s opinion of marijuana in particular is perhaps best illustrated by this statement he made during a 2016 Senate hearing: “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

He also said in February 2017, “I don’t think America is going to be a better place when people of all ages, and particularly young people, are smoking pot. I believe it’s an unhealthy practice, and current levels of THC in marijuana are very high compared to what they were a few years ago, and we’re seeing real violence around that.”

Last year, he took aim at sentencing reform, telling federal prosecutors to stop seeking leniency for low-level drug offenders and start seeking the toughest penalties possible, as NBC News reported at the time.

And in January, Sessions reversed an Obama-era policy—the 2013 Cole memo—that prioritized marijuana cases that presented a safety threat (involving minors, organized crime, etc.) but otherwise left alone U.S. states that have approved marijuana in some capacity. In his own memo, the attorney general called it a “return to the rule of law.”

But despite Sessions’ anti-marijuana stance, on Tuesday, Michigan became the 10th state to legalize cannabis for adult use, and two others—Utah and Missouri—approved medical marijuana.

Marijuana policy reform has been winning with each election, and appears more popular than ever.

“Our hope is the next attorney general will recognize that it is not politically popular to escalate the war on drugs,” said Collins of the Drug Policy Alliance.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr