By Al Olsen
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) rope-a-doped his way through two days of grilling during his confirmation hearing without suffering anything close to a knockout blow, or really saying much about legal marijuana.
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Sessions also suggested that the guidelines provided by his predecessors Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch were "truly valuable" in maintaining an appropriate balance.
"It is not so much the Attorney General's job to decide what laws to enforce," Sessions said. "We should do our job and enforce laws effectively as we are able."
- Marijuana Majority: "It's a good sign that Sen. Sessions seemed open to keeping the Obama guidelines, if maybe with a little stricter enforcement of their restrictions," said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority. "The truth is, his answer was skillfully evasive.
- Drug Policy Alliance: "Jeff Sessions is a nightmare. He is a threat to progress, especially marijuana reform, sentencing reform, and /www.drugpolicy.org/asset-forfeiture-reform"}}">asset forfeiture reform," said Bill Piper, senior director of national affairs for the DPA. "It is clear that he was too afraid to say the Reefer Madness things he said just a year ago, but he left the door open to interfering in the states. I think he will follow Trump's lead, whichever way that goes" Piper said, adding that Sessions' performance was "wishy-washy at best."
- National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws: "If anything, his comments are a cause for concern and can be interpreted as leaving the door open for enforcing federal law in legalized states," said Erik Altieri, executive direction of the NORML. "If Sessions wants to be an Attorney General for ALL Americans, he must bring his views in line with the majority of the population and support allowing states to set their own marijuana policies without fear of federal intervention," he said.
- Marijuana Policy Project: Sessions "chose not to commit to vigorously enforcing federal prohibition laws in states that have reformed their marijuana laws. He also recognized that enforcing federal marijuana laws would be dependent upon the availability of resources, the scarcity of which poses a problem," said Robert Capecchi, director of MPP.
"We need grown-ups in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought not to be minimized, that it is in fact a very real danger. To make it socially acceptable creates increased demand and results in people being addicted and being impacted adversely."
Even more alarming is his belief that America's $1 trillion War on Drugs was a success.
If confirmed -- which seems almost a forgone conclusion at this point -- Sessions would run the Department of Justice, the agency that enforces federal marijuana law. He would have the authority to roll back decades of progress in marijuana policy.
Rohrabacher is co-author of the Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment, which prohibits the Justice Department from spending federal funds to enforce the federal prohibition laws in states where medical marijuana has been legalized. Some legalization advocates express worry that there will be pressure applied to Congress to eliminate or change this rule. Rohrabacher dismisses such chatter.
"In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state by state," Trump said.
Incoming press secretary, Sean Spicer, agrees. "When you come into a Trump administration, it's the Trump agenda you are implementing, not your own, and I think Sen. Sessions is well aware of that," Spicer said.