In an April 2016 Senate hearing, Alabama Republican and attorney general nominee Senator Jeff Sessions argued that leaders in government and lawmakers needed to foster "knowledge that this drug is dangerous, you cannot play with it, it is not funny, it is not something to laugh about...and to send that message with clarity that good people don't smoke marijuana."
This view drastically differs from one put forth by President Obama, who told Rolling Stone his opinion that marijuana should be treated as a public health issue, similar to tobacco or alcohol, and called the growing blend of state laws "untenable" from a federal perspective. According to President Obama, there's much inconsistency across state borders, and it should be up to the states to decide, develop and implement their own laws as they pertain to legalization.
What Does an Attorney General Do?
- Represent the public's interest in solicitations and charitable trust
- Institute civil suits on behalf of the state
- Handle serious statewide criminal prosecutions and criminal appeals
- Represent the state and its agencies before federal and state courts
- Enforce state and environmental laws
- Propose legislation
- Act as a public advocate in areas such as utility and antitrust regulation, consumer protections and child support enforcement
- Issue formal opinions to state agencies
Attorney generals act as chief legal officers of their states, territories and commonwealths within the United States, serving as counselors to their state agencies and legislatures while also acting as the "People's Lawyer" for all U.S. citizens. In the federal government, the Attorney General is a member of the Cabinet as well as the head of the Department of Justice -- the top lawyer and law enforcement officer for the government.
What Marijuana Advocates Want From An Attorney General:
While no single nominee will be able to satisfy every concern of every U.S. citizen, these duties and responsibilities are typically deemed most important by those who place their trust in our government and representation.
Keeping a Wary Eye on U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions
By stating, "Good people do not use marijuana," Sessions arguably defamed countless people -- individuals who are "good people" and whom, by the millions, have agreed to responsibly consume marijuana in America. Thousands of citizens with medical complications and health issues view Sessions' public sentiment as demeaning, insulting and arrogant.
However, according to industry analysts, it's unlikely Trump will make drastic changes to federal marijuana enforcement, based on the economic impact the industry has as well as the repeated preferences demonstrated by voters. Still, there's also a certain degree of uncertainty circling the issue, given Trump's inclination for significantly rolling back campaign promises or for changing his mind without warning.
New Frontier's executive vice president for industry analytics says, "You had Donald Trump running on a slogan of 'Make America Great Again,' bringing back jobs and economic opportunities, and as one of its first acts, (the Trump administration) tries to dismantle one of the fastest growing economic opportunities in the country?" He continues, "I think they're going to be walking gingerly here. The likelihood of federal agents effectively shutting down the adult use industry...in our humble opinion, is unlikely."
However, if confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Sessions will possess the power to pull the plug on decades of hard-fought gains, challenging the adult-use legalization laws approved in eight states and the medical marijuana programs now operating in 29 states.
Looking to the Future of Our Country
Activists are demanding that Senators ask Sessions as well as other potential candidates for this position, whether they intend to respect the will of the voters in states in which marijuana is legal, and whether Sessions truly believes that no "good people" have ever smoked marijuana.
According to Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project, "We would expect appointees who serve at the pleasure of the president to stick to the president's position on this subject. It would certainly be controversial if Sen. Sessions completely defied the president who appointed him."
To show their support of the legalization of marijuana, thousands of pro-marijuana activists plan to light 4,200 joints during President-elect Donald Trump's presidential inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017 in what they maintain is a call for nationalization of cannabis. However, many supporters fear a reversal of recent strides the country has made should his attorney general nominee be appointed the position.