Reflections On A GREEN Year

As we approach the end of Florida’s first full year as a medical marijuana state, it’s worth looking back in appreciation of what has been accomplished, and in consideration of what remains to be done. One person who won’t be appreciating anything, however, is Jeff Sessions, the perennially embattled U.S. Attorney General who once served as a middling senator from Alabama, a state that stands poised to replace Sessions with an accused pedophile named Roy Moore.

Sessions has wisely refrained from comment on that matter, but he’s had plenty to say about marijuana in recent days. “I think it’s a big issue for America, for the country, and I’m of the general view that this is not a healthy substance,” he told a meeting of veteran drug warriors on Dec. 8. “And then have the policy response that we and the federal government needs to be prepared to take and do so appropriately and with good sense.”

The Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment to the current appropriations bill prohibits Sessions from going after residents of states that have passed medical marijuana or similar laws, but with the next budget coming to vote on or before Dec. 22, it’s unclear if that provision will remain in effect. No doubt Sessions would prefer that it not. Sessions gave no indication of this during his confirmation hearing, because he was lying; he later confirmed that his office is looking at ways to reverse the trend.

His remarks are troubling, not just because of the rank ignorance displayed on its face, but more important, because of the “unimpeachable” legal authority this rubber-faced rube carries with him. Let’s recall that, after a number of states passed medical marijuana laws in the 1990s, all that hard work was swiftly undone during the dark days of Dubya by another Attorney General, John Ashcroft. The Supreme Court backed his argument that federal prerogatives take precedence over states’ rights that conservatives held so dear, back before the states began moving in a liberal direction on all kinds of issues. That ruling, Gonzales v. Raich, led to swift rollback of the progress that had been made, opening the door to closing the door on thousands more citizens locked up on marijuana charges.

This is where Sessions’ thinking is rooted, and for him to even talk in the direction of the subject should be cause for alarm, given this administration’s outsized esteem for its own self-interest. As more states prepare to decriminalize or outright legalize next year, be warned: The feds are moving tentatively toward some measure of pushback, in forms as-yet-undetermined.