Attorney General Jeff Sessions suggested that the Department of Justice may crack down on people who grow and sell marijuana, even in the 29 states that legalized the plant, echoing the drawn-out argument that it is still against federal law.
Sessions made the non-surprising comments on conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt’s show after Hewitt asked whether the Department of Justice (DOJ) would be prosecuting marijuana growers and dispensaries for being criminal enterprises under RICO.
“A lot of states are just simply breaking the law and a lot of money is being made and banked,” Hewitt said to Sessions of marijuana growers and sellers. “One Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations prosecution of one producer and the banks that service them would shut this all down. Is such a prosecution going to happen?”
Sessions told Hewitt that he didn’t think “one RICO prosecution would be quite as effective as that,” but said he doesn’t think states that legalized the drug had the right to ignore current federal laws that ban the sale of marijuana.
“I do not believe there’s any argument that because a state legalizes marijuana, that the federal law against marijuana is no longer in existence,” Sessions said. “I do believe that the federal laws clearly are in effect in all 50 states and we will do our best to enforce the laws as we’re required to do so.”
Federal laws currently classify marijuana as a Schedule I drug — the highest level of classification given to illegal drugs which unfairly puts it in the same category as heroin and ecstasy.
Sessions agrees with that classification and is against the legalization of medical marijuana.
“We need grown-ups in charge in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought not to be minimized, that it’s in fact a very real danger,” Sessions said at a Senate hearing on recreational marijuana in April 2016.
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Hewitt further asked Sessions whether there are any prosecutions coming for marijuana growers and sellers.
“One prosecution that invokes a Supremacy Clause against one large dope manufacturing concern, and follows the money as it normally would in any drug operation and seizes it, would shut, would chill all of this,” Hewitt told Sessions, referencing the Constitutional provision that says federal law is above state law. “But I haven’t seen one in nine months, yet. Is one coming?”
Sessions refused to answer the question stating he couldn’t comment on the existence of an investigation.
“I can’t comment on the existence of an investigation at this time, you know that, but I hear you,” Sessions said with a laugh. “You’re making a suggestion, I hear you.”
This comes as Congress recently blocked a bill to allow veterans with PTSD access to medical marijuana as a substitute to big pharma’s opioids. Despite Sessions’ opposition to legalization medical marijuana, the drug has been shown to reverse a decade of rising opioid deaths in Colorado.
However, Congress isn’t giving Sessions the funds that he wants to start his revival of the war against marijuana, as Congress itself has increased support for the legalization of the drug and has denied Sessions money to fight his new crusade.
“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 said during an exchange with reporters at the Justice Department. “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.”
“We’re seeing real violence around that,” Sessions said. “Experts are telling me there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think and there’s big money involved.”
Since Congress didn’t give Sessions any money to fight his war on drugs it remains to be seen how he will accomplish his goal; but his stance is clear as day: he hates marijuana users, sellers and growers despite the growing support to finally legalize the drug for medical use.