Jefferson Beauregard Sessions: senator, attorney general, and vocal marijuana-legalization dissident.
With a name that sounds like it crawled straight out of the Louisiana bayou, one might immediately classify Jefferson Beauregard Sessions as an anti-pot advocate. He speaks with thick southern drawl and has rather deep Southern roots, hailing from Selma, Alabama. Unflatteringly referred to as a “Drug War Dinosaur,” Sessions has been a vocal opponent of marijuana use and marijuana legalization for years, once famously asserting “good people don’t smoke marijuana.” Sessions has continually attempted to link marijuana use and violence, even in the face of evidence that suggests otherwise. Sessions went as far to joke that he thought the KKK members “were ok until I found out they smoked pot.” I think it’s safe to say that Sessions comedic career will not be taking off anytime soon.
Now, before you decide to go off the grid and move to Timbuktu in fear of the federal government knocking at your door, let’s address some facts. Since legalization, Colorado has experienced a 14% drop in its crime rate in two short years and Washington state has experienced similar decreases as well. Not only this, but the marijuana industry has proved to be extremely profitable, grossing $6.7 billion nationally (yes you read that correctly) in 2016 alone. Another common concern was that teen marijuana usage would spike, yet studies have shown no statistically significant uptick in youth marijuana consumption.
Meeting of the Minds
All of the above legalization outcomes seem favorable, yet Sessions has not been deterred in his hunt to take down legalization efforts. The outlook seems rather bleak, yet recently, an inkling of hope surfaced in the form Cynthia Coffman. Coffman is Colorado’s Attorney General and has seen the direct impact of Marijuana on Colorado’s burgeoning economy. She proposed that Sessions and his staffers make a brief pit-stop in Colorado to learn about the flourishing industry. Coffman made the suggestion in hopes of showing Sessions the progress of Marijuana reform, the impact of Marijuana on Colorado’s economy, and even a recreational marijuana facility. Sessions stated that he was indeed interested in the proposal, suggesting that he may be open to counter-arguments, a heartening notion to marijuana users across the nation. Coffman initially opposed legalization efforts as well, contesting that legalization was “not worth it.” Soon after, Coffman presented a more optimistic view of the industry, citing that the legalization process had worked out much better than she had expected. Coffman may be able to address many of Sessions concerns since she once held a similar stance, making her a vital ally to the pro-legalization enclave.
With 13.3% of the population using marijuana, this is a policy issue that will ultimately affect many people from many different walks of life. It is still rather unclear as to what Sessions plans to enact in terms of drug enforcement and policy, but daily-stoners and medical marijuana patients alike will hold their breath as they wait for the smoke to settle.