Jeff Sessions Sure Sounds Like He’s Coming For Your Weed

Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Alicia Wallace reporting at the Denver Post’s Cannabist news site on an interview last week of Attorney General Jeff Sessions by conservative pundit Hugh Hewitt–in which Sessions gets even more specific about his options for cracking down on the legal marijuana industry:

Sessions’ latest remarks on marijuana legalization and enforcement came during a radio interview Thursday with conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt.

Hewitt broached the topic of marijuana by asking Sessions whether he would apply the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act to “end this facade and the flaunting of the Supremacy Clause.”

“…And I’m not in favor of legalization of marijuana. I think it’s a more dangerous drug than a lot of people realize. I don’t think we’re going to be a better community if marijuana is sold in every corner grocery store.”

Asked about whether he could send a message by bringing a RICO case against one retailer, Sessions said the Justice Department is analyzing its options.

“Well, we’ll be evaluating how we want to handle that,” he said. “I think it’s a little more complicated than one RICO case, I’ve got to tell you. This, places like Colorado, it’s just sprung up a lot of different independent entities that are moving marijuana. And it’s also being moved interstate, not just in the home state. … And neighbors (Oklahoma and Nebraska) are complaining, and filed lawsuits against them. So it’s a serious matter, in my opinion.”

That Sessions specific cited the example of Colorado, as opposed to other legal marijuana states with functioning retail markets like Washington or Oregon, should indeed worry local marijuana industry supporters. Without the resources to deploy thousands of federal agents to shut down marijuana stores and growhouses, it’s much more likely that Sessions would choose to file suit against one example state, or even prosecute an individual business under federal marijuana laws in order to send a chilling message to the industry. The real objective for Sessions would not be to use federal resources to stamp out the marijuana industry, but to induce states to do so themselves.

Politically, this would be a destructive development for Colorado Republicans ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. The question is whether our one small swing state would count for enough politically to give someone like Sessions pause–or for that matter, any of the marijuana states, most of whom are reliably blue.

Most likely, Sessions doesn’t give a crap about the politics. And if you care about Colorado’s marijuana industry, it’s quite possible that the best chance to defend it was before November 8th, 2016. Federal law is what it is, and the only thing that allowed this new industry to flourish without changing federal law was a permissive executive branch.

And because elections matter, those days are over.

17 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

    It would be a more sane response to apply RICO to the bevy of rich, old white guys who profited from our utterly-failed War on Drugs People.  Their math on Prohibition is as bad as their math on health care. 

  2. ModeratusModeratus says:

    I support ending this failed experiment. Marijuana is illegal. We can't have state laws that conflict with federal law. Let's sober up, Colorado. Shut down the weed industry.

    • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

      What a stupid thing to say, Fluffy. The only failed experiment was allowing your DNA to reach adult human form. I sure hope you don't plan to have kids.  

      On the other hand, todays' response seems almost robotic. Algorithms don't reproduce, do they?

      • Conserv. Head Banger says:

        Of course marijuana is illegal. So, let's get it shut down because the Mexican drug cartels have been hurting financially.

        In addition, let’s have more private prisons in Colorado to house all the newly convicted who get busted for possession of an ounce of Mary Jane. And those kids who use marijuana oil to control seizures, let's cut them off and hope they die quickly, right Moddy?

    • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

      The 'failed experiment' was Prohibition, moran. It also happens to be enshrined in our state constitution. Good luck.

    • spaceman65 says:

      Sober up, Moddy.  First, do you really think marijuana disappears if the feds shut down the state industry?  Second, what's your stance on alcohol?  Third, what about prescription opioids?  You know, what do you think about the legal drugs that actually kill thousands each year.  How about we shut down the painkiller industry or the craft beer industry?  Better yet, how about we just leave things as they are and let Colorado keep its economy going well



    • RepealAndReplace says:

      So, Muddy…..You were OK when states' rights meant that people could own slaves but when it comes to weed, THAT'S what's unacceptable?

  3. dywer says:

    That's why I stocked up 2 months ago.  Enough tincture to last til the Newsome administration.

  4. mamajama55mamajama55 says:

    Here's a solution: Create a state religion that requires sacramental cannabis.

    Jeff Sessions is all about the state establishment of religion, according to his 3/10/16 Senate speech featured in the New York Times.

    Church and State

    Mr. Sessions, a Methodist of deep faith, has argued that the Establishment Clause of the Constitution has been overinterpreted and the Free Exercise Clause has been ignored. The result, he said, is the unnecessary prohibition of expressions of faith in public spaces.

    The Constitution says we shall not establish a religion — Congress shall not establish a religion. It doesn’t say states couldn’t establish a religion.



      • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

        Fun facts, indeed, cook. What's scary is that our Perjurer-in-Chief Sessions seems willfully ignorant of the law – per the article that you cited:

        14th Amendment to US Constitution was ratified by South Carolina in July 1868. The US Supreme Court ruled that this amendment ended state support of religion in all US states in ruling of Gitlow v. New York, 1925

        So much for Colorado's Cannabis Creed..but the  tenth amendment, which reads

        The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people

        still applies. Even our GOP Members of Congress say so.

        These fools like Sessions are intentionally promoting a constitutional crisis. They want to see chaos, a patchwork of state laws in conflict, the Bill of Rights limited to what one can get one's state to enforce. It serves the interests of anarchists like Bannon and authoritarians like Putin to weaken the Federal government of the US.


  5. JohnInDenver says:

    The notion of a federal "supremacy" is silly. We don't have to change our voting laws because the Federal Government has established their laws in the District of Columbia and the territories. Nor do we have to follow federal gun control laws that apply in National Parks. There may be some rationale for federal action concerning medical marijuana allowing for a crackdown on doctors who prescribe it rather than some federally approved drug.

    Congress has not even passed a law with an offer of money contingent on having marijuana laws of a certain standard, as they did with the liquor/DWI laws.

    So, if AG Sessions wants to use Federal laws and Federal enforcement resources on marijuana, he certainly can. Personally, I think there may be other things better worth the courts' depleted number of judges and the prisons' limited amounts of space and money. And I know a few people with military experience who agree that the federal government should not take marijuana products away from vets who have found them more useful than VA-authorized treatments.

    If he comes after Colorado marijuana, he and other Republicans will own the consequences. More money spent to enforce, less money available in the state's coffers, and (given our experience with Prohibition and more recent efforts in the "War on Drugs") an undetermined amount of money outside the tracked economy and some not-insubstantial amounts going to Mexican cartels or other criminal enterprises. Criminalizing activity of at least 30% of adults 18-25 and 12% of adults over 25 might have some electoral consequences.

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