Attorney General Jeff Sessions' latest headlines are about reportedly not disclosing his contact with Russia's ambassador to the United States while being questioned under oath during his confirmation hearing. While the Washington Post story is disconcerting to many Americans, Sessions made comments earlier this week that supporters of marijuana legalization may also find disturbing. Speaking to a group of reporters on Monday, Sessions indicated that the Justice Department could go after marijuana decriminalization and strictly enforce the federal designation of weed as a Schedule I narcotic, its most serious categorization.
Sessions is no wallflower on the issue of marijuana legalization. He's been an outspoken critic of marijuana and the efforts to legalize it throughout his career. Admitting as much himself, Sessions told reporters on Monday, "Most of you probably know I don’t think America is going to be a better place when more people of all ages and particularly young people start smoking pot."
Sessions is in a position where he could derail the decriminalization and legalization efforts in different states. As attorney general, Sessions could use the current federal prohibitions against weed to force states into compliance. During his Senate confirmation hearing, Sessions stated that if Americans did not want him to enforce current law prohibiting marijuana use, they should vote to change that law themselves.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions to state AGs’ meeting: “We don't need to be legalizing marijuana." pic.twitter.com/VxwiWOzwl3— Ryan Teague Beckwith (@ryanbeckwith) February 28, 2017
During his Monday comments to reporters, Sessions referenced a Nebraska lawsuit filed to stop the flow of marijuana from Colorado, one of its border states. And according to Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, this might be one of the first areas of increased federal involvement. The Denver Post reported that Coffman has invited Sessions to come and see Colorado's legalized weed industry for himself. She also referenced the recent meeting in Washington, D.C., between Sessions and all the state attorneys general. Talking with Colorado Public Radio, Coffman noted, "It sounds like there is room for states to have legalization, but what it seems to portend is the federal government will be at the borders to stop marijuana from crossing state lines."
Sessions' predecessor, Loretta Lynch, also opposed further legalization of marijuana. However, earlier in 2013 when Eric Holder was attorney general, the Department of Justice declared it would not interfere with state laws allowing small amounts of marijuana.
With President Trump now in office and Sessions as head of the Justice Department, it remains to be seen how much time, energy, and financial resources will be devoted to blocking the decriminalization or legalization of weed.