Mr. Session’s Doomed War on Pot

So, the federal government is going to crack down on pot, is it? Really? How exactly is that going to work?  There are, what, more than 30 states that have either decriminalized it in some way, legalized medicinal marijuana (with a doctor’s recommendation) or out-and-out agreed to make it legal for recreational use?*

I’m thinking this cat is already out of the bag.

There are federal laws against marijuana cultivation, possession and distribution but under the Obama administration prosecutors were instructed to adopt a hands-off approach in states were medicinal pot had been legalized. Now, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has created a cannabis conundrum by doing away with that approach. In a memo to federal prosecutors across the country Sessions made his desire clear. No pot, no where, no how.

Sessions wants the decades old federal law, which lists marijuana in the same dangerous and potentially deadly category as crack cocaine, heroin or fentanyl, upheld by his force of federal prosecutors.

Again, the cat, the bag … And, how would that federal law even be enforced at this stage?

In elevating the matter from a mere state’s rights issue to a high-level national priority Mr. Sessions may have outsmarted himself. His hardline position has now galvanized influential members of Congress – both democrats and republicans – resulting in lots of chest pounding pronouncements of defiance. It’s a matter of money – big money — and constituent’s special interests.

First, the dollars and cents. The legal businesses that have sprung up around marijuana, pot, weed, hemp, cannabis, whatever you want to call it, were valued at about $8 billion last year. That will likely rise to $9 billion this year. It is a runaway financial juggernaut that is adding hundreds of millions of dollars in fees and tax revenue to participating states’ coffers. More states are poised to jump on the legalization train in the near future.

And, about those constituents. Latest estimates are that 2.6 million Americans now rely on medical marijuana. They come from all walks of mainstream life. They are cancer and HIV-Aids patients, seniors, epileptic children and voters battling chronic pain. Even the conservative American Legion backs access to cannabis for its members who suffer from PTSD and painful conditions borne of war.

So, what did Attorney General Jeff Sessions see as the road ahead when he made his grand announcement to reinstate the prohibition on pot? While hardline law enforcement types may applaud the action, there seems to be little support anywhere else.

Members of Congress have called the action “heartless and cold” and one that “bulldozes over the will of the American people.” (Indeed, in the latest Pew Research Center poll six-in-ten Americans believe marijuana should be legalized.) One lawmaker from Florida, Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz, lectured the Attorney General about priorities.

“He should focus his energies on prosecuting criminals not patients,” Gaetz said

Other lawmakers from states that benefit from relaxed marijuana laws are promising to retaliate. There are threats to stonewall all of Mr. Session’s future DOJ nominees, to squeeze his department’s budget and to include in the pending 2018 Omnibus Spending Bill an amendment guaranteeing there will be no federal rollback of state’s cannabis laws.

The unspoken reality, of course, is that Congress is the legislative branch of government and at any time any member could easily introduce a bill to repeal the federal marijuana law. So far, none has been brave enough to come forward with such legislation. Guess its politically safer to shout from the sidelines.

This political showdown should have come as no surprise. States have been passing laws easing up on the prohibition against marijuana since 1973 when Oregon took the first plunge to decriminalize weed. In 1978, New Mexico became the first state to recognize the medical value of marijuana and allowed its limited use to treat cancer patients.  (The state fully legalized medicinal cannabis in 2007) And all the while official Washington stood on the sidelines (for the most part) and watched as state after state after state traveled down the path toward legal pot.

A predictable hue and cry from the public followed the Attorney General’s recent marijuana announcement. Various newspaper editorials painted Session as a “lifelong anti-drug crusader” who ignores medical science and doesn’t realize how fighting the deadly opioid epidemic has already stretched his team of federal prosecutors to the limit. Patient rights groups, civil liberties advocates and those who work within the legalized cannabis industry have all come out swinging against Sessions’ proposal.

Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III may want to reignite the old War on Drugs with his conviction that marijuana should be subjected to the same legal penalties as harder drugs,  ut common sense reveals the limit to his power.

The sheer number of opponents standing at the ready to wage their own war makes it clear Sessions’ battle to once again criminalize marijuana appears doomed.



  1. Diane Dimond on January 16, 2018 at 12:10 pm

    Facebook Friend Gerald Griffith writes:

    By now, most reasonable people understand that the “War on Drugs” has never actually been about drugs. If it were the case that this war was to protect us from something harmful to us, I wouldn’t have multiple pharmaceutical commercials on TV daily that come with a warning that tells me it’s use could kill me, make me suicidal, depressed, etc.

  2. Diane Dimond on January 16, 2018 at 12:10 pm

    Facebook Friend Jan Charlton writes:

    Well do you want a user driving it’s no different then being under the influence of anything else you think your ok to drive until you hit someone

  3. Diane Dimond on January 16, 2018 at 12:11 pm

    Reader William DeMint writes:

    Hi Diane In your article of Saturday, last, your enthusiasm for pot is only exceeded by your disregard of medical effects of pot. Hardly a day goes by when a DR describes what effects pot can have, especially on young minds. Young minds, teens, are still developing they say and pot has long lasting deleterious effects. But even on adults it is reported that continuous and heavy smoking of pot makes one lethargic, loss of ambition, forgetful, and out of touch with reality. And many times pot is a gate way to heavier stuff, Supposedly pot smokers become adjusted to pot and look for something more powerful, with a bigger hit. Maybe, with your journalistic talents you can investigate the medical effects of pot and also publicize the truth about pot. Thanks for listening. Bill Demint

  4. Diane Dimond on January 16, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    Reader Christopher Key writes:

    As do many others (including the DEA and Justice dept), you fail to note the difference between marijuana and hemp. Pot, weed, marij — whatever you call it — contains 8% – 12% THC, the main psychoactive component. Hemp, sometimes referred to as industrial hemp, contains less than 1% THC. It produces fiber for rope, pulp for paper, and oil from the seeds. The diesel engine was designed to run on vegetable oil, at the time hemp oil was the most common. (whole other story how the petroleum industry found a way to use the waste products from gasoline production)

    A useful analogy is the difference between types of corn. Sweet corn is for human consumption, you can eat it right off the stalk. Field corn is hard and mostly used as animal feed.

    Hemp does not need pesticides as it has no natural pests. It does not need herbicides since it grows so densely it crowds out any other weeds. And needs little fertilizer since it can grow in poor soils.

    It would be nice to see the whole cannabis issue separated into two different areas of discussion and legislation.


  5. Diane Dimond on January 16, 2018 at 12:20 pm

    Facebook Friend Tracy Blowers writes:

    It’s heartbreaking that the people that run our country are so clueless. How about a war on alcohol? It’s a million times worse and kills people every day. Medical cannabis has changed my life and the saddest part of it all is that SO MANY people don’t understand that what I use doesn’t even get me high. Last year was my most productive year out of the last ten years, I gave back to society instead of having to go on disability. It’s my medicine and it’s awful that our society is brainwashed into thinking it’s a bad thing.

  6. Diane Dimond on January 16, 2018 at 12:21 pm

    Facebook Friend Cliff Darnell writes:

    Blah blah blah. Money money big pharmaceutical companies are great lobbyist They will legislate themselves into lucrative marijuana businesses , and the politicians, too. Love the new Government ordered tobacco adds the statistics quoted should be illuminated every where.
    Sessions war is not a war it’s a stalling, diversionary, dividing,forces tacit designed to cloud the political environment so little deals can be made. money power greed. …same old people bran new party. …

  7. Diane Dimond on January 16, 2018 at 12:21 pm

    Facebook Friend Terri L Hargrove-Taylor writes:

    The DEA has already approved a synthetic form of medical marijuana. Smh…

  8. Diane Dimond on January 16, 2018 at 12:21 pm

    Facebook Friend Roger Thompson writes:

    Sessions is another Political turd. Weed is here to stay because tax revenue rules

  9. Diane Dimond on January 16, 2018 at 12:22 pm

    Facebook Friend Donald Shaffer writes:

    The Justice Department really needs to be concentrating on the opioid crisis. While marijuana isn’t exactly as wholesome as some people would like to make it seem, especially smoked, opioids are killing people wholesale at an alarming rate. Over 600 deaths alone here in Arizona in the last six months of 2017. Let marijuana takes its place beside alcohol and nicotine as a legal, regulated consumer recreational drug. And let the government put its resources into opioids. That is where the true public health crisis exists and the biggest pushers are corporate pharmaceutical interests who have been lavish political contributors. (One important reason Jeff Sessions is talking up targeting pot again–trying to protect those contributors by using limited government resources elsewhere.)

  10. Diane Dimond on January 16, 2018 at 12:22 pm

    Facebook Friend Terry Daniel writes:

    Sessions is brain dead. He’s absolutely clueless this and only wants to start a war because of the threat this brings to the oil industry. If you want to research something, look at the deaths from marijuana in the past ten years versus the deaths from alcohol. Enough said.

  11. Diane Dimond on January 16, 2018 at 12:22 pm

    Facebook Friend Pete Fogel writes:

    Nobody is putting the Genie back in that bottle!

  12. Diane Dimond on January 17, 2018 at 2:10 pm

    Nashua Telegraph Reader Lionel “Rip” Rocheleau writes:

    I think it is disgraceful that congress is criticizing enforcing a federal law. Don’t like the law change it, that is their job and duty. The President does not have the authority to overrule congress concerning what laws he want enforced and those he does not, nor do we want to give him that authority.

    I have little problem with the Medical use of Marijuana, but some with recreational use. How many years was it that smoking cigarettes was considered ok and normal? Is it healthy to breathe in any kind’a smoke? How long before these smokers start suing because of health issues? I’d say get these recreational users to sign a disclaimer that they know the hazards and will not sue because of them,

    And last I know police personnel that are concerned because there is no present way to test for impairment while using Marijuana in any form. For Alcohol we can test the blood or breath and know when a person is impaired. Marijuana can be tested for but all they can tell is it is in your system. Heavy user need more to be impaired, light user less. Until we have a valid test that will stand up in court I am very concerned about Marijuana impaired drivers, equipment operators, etc. especially when they put me and others at risk.

    Love your columns

  13. Diane Dimond on January 17, 2018 at 2:18 pm

    Facebook Friend David Molpus writes:

    Until the federal laws against marijuana are changed by Congress, the federal government should enforce the law on the books since federal law supersedes state law. It’s a bad precedent to have Presidents ignore the laws they have sworn to uphold and will come back to haunt people of all political stripes. Second, we don’t really know how safe pot is for recreational use or the risks from use for medicinal purposes because most of the research to date has been done using marijuana that is far less potent than that being grown and used today. Today’s pot is typically three or four times stronger in terms of the element that gets you high. Congress needs to take the lead if this Administration won’t and remove the current impediments to marijuana research.

  14. Diane Dimond on January 17, 2018 at 2:49 pm

    Twitter pal Dave Imbriaco@DaveImbSays writes:

    It’s the last scream of the drug warriors before their relegation to the dustbin of history. And good riddance. SO many lives ruined for no good reason.

  15. Diane Dimond on January 17, 2018 at 3:00 pm

    Facebook Friend Pete Fogel writes:

    I’m in California now. I was in Nevada, Oregon, Colorado and Washington State all in the past 4 months. These are all States where marijuana is completely legal for recreational use Everything is running smoothly. People aren’t jumping off of bridges, crime hasn’t increaseed, more teenages arent using it and most importantly, nobody is overdosing or dying from the new evil/potent marijuana. And let’s not even talk about how much money the states are pulling in from the tax revenues. It’s incredible! I saw it all with my own eyes.

Leave a Comment