U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), President Trump's nominee for attorney general, has provided responses to written marijuana questions from a number of senators. Some highlights:
BOTTOM LINE: Sessions is still being very guarded in discussing the Trump administration's intentions toward state marijuana laws. Probably the most important revelation above is that he is going to review and evaluate the Cole memo that gives states a roadmap for how to avoid federal interference with their cannabis laws.
- "While I am generally familiar with the Cole memorandum, I am not privy to any internal Department of Justice data regarding the effectiveness and value of the policies contained within that memorandum... I will certainly review and evaluate those policies, including the original justifications for the memorandum, as well as any relevant data and how circumstances may have changed or how they may change in the future."
- "I will not commit to never enforcing Federal law. Whether an arrest and investigation of an individual who may be violating the law is appropriate is a determination made in individual cases based on the sometimes unique circumstances surrounding those cases, as well as the resources available at the time."
- A recent federal court ruling that a Congressional rider prevents the Justice Department from going after people complying with state medical marijuana laws "is relatively recent, and I am not familiar with how other courts may have interpreted the relevant appropriations language or the Ninth Circuit’s opinion. As an emerging issue, that is one that will need to be closely evaluated in light of all relevant law and facts... I will conduct such a review. Of course, medical marijuana use is a small part of the growing commercial marijuana industry."
- On "good people don't smoke marijuana": "My words have been grossly mischaracterized and taken out of context... I was discussing the value of treating people for using dangerous and illegal drugs like marijuana, and the context in which treatment is successful."
- "I echo Attorney General Lynch's comments [on marijuana being illegal], and commit, as she did, to enforcing federal law with respect to marijuana, although the exact balance of enforcement priorities is an ever-changing determination based on the circumstances and the resources available at the time."
- "I will defer to the American Medical Association and the researchers at the National Institutes of Health and elsewhere about the medical effects of marijuana. Without having studied the relevant regulations in depth, I cannot say whether they may need to be eased in order to advance research; but, I will review this."
The Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider Sessions's nomination Tuesday but Democrats have indicated they will try to delay the vote.