By Chris Zuver, A&E Editor
“My argument is: let’s give this guy a chance. Don’t beat the hell out of him now. Wait till he’s been in a year, then if he doesn’t do good, then we can start banging him.”
-Barry Goldwater in regard to Bill Clinton, July 1993
I was pretty calm with President Trump’s cabinet for the first year. Sure, I had my spats with Bannon and Pompeo in 2017, but I would consider that a rather light touch. Yet, as we enter a new year, I’ve decided that I’m no longer staying silent about one of the Executive’s picks which has bugged me for a long time now: Attorney General, Jeff Sessions. The man is singlehandedly continuing the war on drugs which has proven itself to be an absolute failure. Yet, what I find truly infuriating is his vendetta against low-level drug crimes.
And his vendetta has slowly been building up over time.
First, while he was an Alabama Senator, during a Senate drug hearing in April, 2016, Sessions stated: “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.”
This statement was in regards to his concern over high statistics of drivers testing positive in certain states for THC, the active compound in those under the influence of marijuana.
Sessions added that lawmakers and government leaders ought to “send that message with clarity that good people don’t smoke marijuana.”
Last May, in a memo to staff, the now-Attorney General ordered federal prosecutors to “charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense” against low-level drug crimes.
Then, three weeks ago, on January 4, another bombshell dropped: AG Sessions rescinded a trio of memos from the Obama administration. These memos had adopted a hands-off approach in support of states which had legalized marijuana, as opposed to being regulated on the federal level. Effectively, this move opens federal prosecutors to decide individually how to enforce laws against cracking down on possession, distribution, and cultivation of marijuana in states where it’s already legal.
As long as certain drugs are illegal, I don’t think being hawkish on high-tier offenders is a bad thing, but when it includes the seeking of low-level crimes, including possession that includes those holding marijuana, then it’s just silly. Let us not forget that marijuana is still considered a Schedule I Drug according to DEA.
Here is what is ironic to me, though: during Sessions’ time in Congress, he was considered one of the most conservative members of the Senate. Yet, Sessions effectively agrees with the continuation of the DEA, which gives incentive to increase the size of government, something that conservatives are usually opposed to.
So, if you consider yourself conservative or libertarian, wouldn’t you dismiss Sessions’ actions, especially when he outright ordered the federal government to infringe on the rights of individual states who are simply practicing their freedoms?
This is nothing more than a continuation of the war on drugs. Since its beginnings in 1971, this “war” has not stopped the influx of drugs into the country and has caused the number of incarcerated Americans to skyrocket, many whom were locked up under enforced mandatory minimum sentences for holding a small amount of an illegal substance.
If one looks back to the prohibition of alcohol from 1920-1933, one can learn two things:
First, that outlawing a substance does not stop it. The black market for libations grew staggeringly during this era. This black market was dominated by smugglers and high-level criminals which subsequently increased the rate of criminal activity and arrests.
Secondly, once the 12th Amendment was repealed, ending prohibition, many jobs were created for breweries, bars, and other liquor vendors.
One promise that President Trump continues to stress is that he seeks to create jobs for U.S. citizens. Do you see where I’m going with this?
In a Harvard-Harris Poll survey last August, 86 percent of respondents voted that marijuana should be legal through one mean or another, whether it be for recreational purposes or only medicinal. 57 percent of those voters said that legalizing marijuana would make society better.
So, Sessions is not on the side of the people, which isn’t surprising when it comes to any high-ranking politician. Rather, he is on the side of government intervention and outdated stigmas that reek all too much of Harry J. Anslinger. It is in my opinion that either Sessions reconsiders his stance on this whole debacle or President Trump does what he is best known for: termination.