Marijuana can be a lot of things to lots of people. An aphrodisiac, a sleep aid, a way to appreciate the music of Phish. But thanks to a controversial Alabama Senator, it may soon become a topic likely to unite freedom lovers of all stripes.
Shortly after Donald Trump became the nation’s 45th president-elect, it was announced that Jeff Sessions would be nominated for the position of United States attorney General. The left proceeded to lose its collective mind. Their list of worries consisted mostly of the standard liberal objections to a hard right Republican: He is notoriously anti-immigration, pro-war and a global warming skeptic. His views on social issues have earned him a zero rating from an LGBTQ advocacy group and he’s even had the audacity to oppose all three Supreme court nominees by Barack Obama.
And then there’s the ever-dangerous third-rail of contemporary politics: race.
Allegations of racism have followed Sessions around in every sector he’s traveled – because, of course, how could a senator from sweet home Alabama be anything but a raging racist? Although in fairness, he has given his accusers plenty of ammunition.
Amidst rumors of racially charged language, a 39-year-old Sessions was denied a federal judgeship in 1986. He would later go on to insist, “I am not a racist. I am not insensitive to blacks. Racism is totally unacceptable in America. Everybody needs to be treated fairly and objectively.” But the damage, by then, was done. Matters weren’t helped by the fact that Sessions, to his own admission, could be “loose with [his] tongue on occasion.” Like the time he was asked his view of the Ku Klux Klan and he quipped “I thought those guys [the KKK] were okay until I learned they smoked pot.”
The Alabama Senator’s defiantly un-pc joke brings us to a concern that libertarian-minded folks of the right may share with their lefty pals: his violent opposition to the legalization of Marijuana.
In recent years the pro-legalization landscape has been littered with signs of progress. On election day, eight states supported the legalization of pot for either recreational or medicinal use. It seemed steps were being taken toward ending the prohibition of marijuana. But it’s unclear what may happen when the steps lead to Attorney General Sessions – a man who declared the drug a “very real danger” that is “not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized.”
When the hearings on his Senate Judiciary Committee nomination began, Sessions was understandably questioned about views that seem to contradict the nation’s path on the issue of pot legalization.
But when asked tough questions, Sessions has replied with a definitive maybe, skillfully dodging any attempt to firmly peg his position.
Despite hints that he wouldn’t support significant changes in federal policy, Sessions didn’t rule out the idea of expanded federal interference, which, in theory, could mean using federal law to bully the states out of marijuana’s legalization.
Those not passionately involved in the issue may wonder what the fuss is about. So let’s put some things in perspective: Regardless of where you stand morally on the issue, the drug war is a huge drain of taxpayer’s income as well as a colossal failure.
In addition to the billions of dollars spent to maintain rates of arrest and incarceration that lead the world, there’s also the insane loss of liberty that comes naturally with the prohibition of non-violent behavior.
But doesn’t the war on drugs focus mostly on the ‘big fish’ dealing with bigger, more dangerous drugs than weed? Not really.
According to the FBI’s statistics, of the one and half million arrests for violation of drug laws, nearly half were for marijuana. Of those, 43 percent were solely for possession. Simply put, the legalization of marijuana would take an enormous chunk out of the wasteful spending and pointless incarnation currently taking place under this horror show. But as long as Jeff Sessions’ view on the legalization of marijuana remains unclear, the big picture concerns over the drug war will also remain unclear.