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AG Sessions: ‘More Violence Around Marijuana Than One Would Think’

February 27, 2017
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is greeted by employees as he arrives at the Justice Department in Washington. The federal prison population is on the decline, but a new attorney general who talks tough on drugs and crime could usher in a reversal of that trend. (Susan Walsh/AP)
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department will try to adopt “responsible policies” for enforcement of federal anti-marijuana laws, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Monday, adding that he believes violence surrounds sales and use of the drug in the U.S.

In a meeting with reporters, Sessions said the department was reviewing an Obama administration Justice Department memo that gave states flexibility in passing marijuana laws.

“They can pass the laws they choose. I would just say, it does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States.”
Jeff Sessions, US Attorney General

“Experts are telling me there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think,” Sessions said.

The comments were in keeping with remarks last week from White House spokesman Sean Spicer, who said the Justice Department would step up enforcement of federal law against recreational marijuana. Sessions stopped short of saying what he would do, but said he doesn’t think America will be a better place with “more people smoking pot.”


White House Plans ‘Greater Enforcement’ Against Legal Cannabis

“I am definitely not a fan of expanded use of marijuana,” he said. “But states, they can pass the laws they choose. I would just say, it does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not.”

Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use. The Justice Department has several options available should it decide to enforce the law, including filing lawsuits on the grounds that state laws regulating cannabis are unconstitutional because they are pre-empted by federal law.

Studies have found no correlation between legalization of marijuana and violent crime rates. But law enforcement officials in states such as Colorado say drug traffickers have taken advantage of lax marijuana laws to hide in plain sight, illegally growing and shipping the drug across state lines, where it can sell for much higher.

Legalization advocates say the officials have exaggerated the problem.

“You can’t sue somebody for a drug debt. The only way to get your money is through strong-arm tactics, and violence tends to follow that,” Sessions said.

Sessions said he met with Nebraska’s attorney general, who sued Colorado for allegedly not keeping marijuana within its borders. That lawsuit was dismissed by the U.S. Supreme Court, but neighboring states continue to gripe that Colorado and other legal cannabis states have not done enough to keep the drug from crossing their borders.

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  • David Yoseph Schreiber

    “You can’t sue somebody for a drug debt. The only way to get your money is through strong-arm tactics, and violence tends to follow that,” Sessions said.

    Cannabis is a cash business.

  • jontomas

    Where have all the journalists gone? – This is old propaganda that has long been debunked.

  • Vortex

    Sessions is right, I am in the Industry in Or., and there have long been stories from field workers/ trimmers of growers in Ca. who simply “Deep 6” those who they owe money to and don’t like rather than pay them. In short, capitol murder.

    • 360dunk

      You and Sessions are both full of it. If the only place to buy weed was at a licensed dispensary, the violence and black market deals would disappear. Any and all violence happens where the plant ISN’T legal, not where it is.

      • Vortex

        These are growers for the med dispensaries in Calif, and unlike you, I am actually a local and in the industry. It will be idiot hotheads like you who will be the big obstical to any descheduling actually. So blow off.

        • 360dunk

          Vortex, you have no clue as I’m also in the industry. And just because there have been a few incidents with growers doesn’t mean that growing and distributing dispensary weed, as a norm, results in violence. Again, that’s typically black market weed. (BTW, never call someone an idiot if you can’t even spell your own language correctly, you under-educated buffoon).

        • 360dunk

          Only a drama queen would pretend that a handful of violent incidents involving growers is the norm. Dispensary weed is mostly free of cartel involvement and the violence. There are millions of pounds grown and you choose to think non-cartel weed growers are typically violent? Please. Get a clue.

    • RadRadley

      I doubt this is true. As a grower, you’re not going to harvest & trim a whole crop by yourself. So if you’re abusing the help, you’re only going to grow one crop!

      • Vortex

        Well, If you were actually in our industry you would know that there is a large pool of migrant workers that follow harvests in OR./ Ca., just as Mexicans do for other crops, making them just as easy for exploitation as they are. Get a clue, OK?

        • RadRadley

          Get a clue yourself. Been in the industry. Moved to Oregon from Colorado. Attended & certified by Portlandsterdam U. Your perspective is not unique !

  • neigel hruska

    come to southern oregon all the usa degenarte druggies are moving in ,and they are scumbags.we have had more killings than normal in a town of 40 and breed,andi. have acually won awards southern oregons cultavtors cup 2014 /2015.the rec bill is bringing in rich out of towners also,who drive 75 in 40,yell at store workers when they dont have what they want.these folks say cavejunction is rude to them.well of course when old folks are getting kicked out of homes for greedy landlords to charge more.600 a month to the way more kids in school are eating gummy treats,we never gave kids herb,but all you have to do is get a weed buyer now and bam you rippped.i have never seen a town go down hill faster than grantpassoregon,cavejunction,thank kate brown for her bullcrap laws.we need a ten year residentry before any grower from out of town comes in.i welcome competition,but i pack a gun on me non stop now,because these people are high on heroin,steal and thing not nailed down,and are loud.i have smoked for 26 years .blownglass in 1999 and watched my bros like uesheen,and mike luna ,darby holmes and some others im missing for sure we have been the tip of the spear for a long time.ken kesey told me as i sold him a hammer pipe in1999 ,that the glass prices were out of control and that we were getting out of touch with what was going on.HE was shocked i sold it to him for so cheap,so we toked a bol threw it and he told me to never get greedy.i remeber smoking with jack herer before his stroke when he was selling his brand of wood pipe,what a hard worker,is what those men invisioned,homelesss old folks in state parks living in there cars!time to man up and realize that it was all bullshit,just another thing that made think i was better than i really was .i support weed,but its not a cure all.its acuallly makeing people sick in oregon,why?go to the er all you see is raggae hippies with rashes and pains all over.what about avid every asshole uses that crap around here,i loved weed last year and have breed out some really nice strains ,and now i feel like eating my tens of thousands seeds,testing was so easy the years prior,not know to many people.sure i could be selling my seeds but for what to give my years of expeince away,so other can grow these dinasour strains i created,until we get good honest people who will tell the truth ,unlike george soros who invest in this weed,ask yourself why is george soros really looking out for some little old smoker.nope he wants us to this man,you will see we need to kick him out and any other globalist asshole in this once peacfull marijauna program.dont you think sessions knows this,if we dont clean this up our selves he will.they said they would not change our medical ,and the first thing they did was change it,so what we did vote on measure 91 was not what we got hold the vote again and see what would happen.all the medical growers all over orgegon would have said hell no.thanks for listing i have also stopped smoking 8 days clean and my pain went away funny ,i feel great,maybe weed is so mentally addictve you cant see threw the shit it, took me 26 years to finally no the truth long term use is not good i now i have watched my town go to hell now what.

  • XO Dosia

    this guy is an imbecile

  • 360dunk

    Sessions, you blithering idiot. If there was no black market, there would be no violence. People don’t commit crimes in a dispensary very often. Legalize the weed and the violence will stop. Go after meth and heroin addicts, you bozo. That’s where the violence occurs.

  • BenSamizdat

    Much of what he says is blatantly false, but now that he explains himself, he makes a bit more sense. I have lots of stories of investors or property owners deciding to get rid of workers just before the harvest so they don’t have to pay out. LOTS of stories. Since the case can’t be handled in court, how do you think it gets handled? With extreme violence. And once one party gets their pound of flesh, what is to stop them from eliminating the witness who already proved themselves to be a thief? I give Sessions 1 point. But surely he realizes that if Cannabis is made 100% legal, this gives the victims legal recourse so they can take the thief to court instead of handling things on their own? In other words, keeping Cannabis illegal is what is contributing to the violence in the first place. But Sessions knows that. He is in the pocket of the For-Profit-Prison industry AS WE ALL SAW.

  • Jim Jackson

    “You can’t sue somebody for a drug debt. The only way to get your money
    is through strong-arm tactics, and violence tends to follow that,”
    Sessions said.

    Yeah, right you idiot… Drug dealers don’t give credit. Legalize it to get rid of the violence. The only violence issue in the legal market is the fact that dispensaries have to deal in cash making it a prime target for robberies.

    • baldwrench

      More Fake news to put a negative spin on my medication. I’ve been cleared via Doctors in two states. They can’t stop me due to another psych purpose as a Vet with PTSD.

  • Cyberduk

    What a crock of $h1T. Violence surrounds the sale of milk. I think this is a perfect example of how Washington thinks they know what’s best for everyone even when everyone says in great detail exactly what they want.

  • Izzat So

    Don’t worry about Sessions any more…. the nation’s top lie enforcement officer is on his way to the gulag after his mendacity has been exposed.

  • Greg Erkins

    If Sessions goes after Legalized Pot, I see a One-Term Presidency for Trump.

  • freewheelinfranklin543

    They seem to be in the process of getting rid of this guy because it looks like he may have perjured himself in front of Congress.
    He lies about Cannabis and he is the best friend the private prison industry has. He intends to pay them back with our bodies.

    • tank20101955

      the private prison system is whats driving the republicans push to bring it back to completely illegality, it is the simplest way for judges to fill all those new prisons they have built. they have been doing this crap for 40 years, but it only in the last decade or so that they have learned that if they build private prisons and fill them with pot smokers. its unreal how much money they can make off of housing prisoners, and pot smokers tend to be more obedient and easier to control that say a gang banger who smokes nothing but rock!.

  • Highway 69

    “Studies have found no correlation between legalization of marijuana and violent crime rates. But law enforcement officials in states such as Colorado say drug traffickers have taken advantage of lax marijuana laws to hide in plain sight, illegally growing and shipping the drug across state lines, where it can sell for much higher.”

    Well, wouldn’t the solution be obvious, Mr.Sessions?
    Legalize cannabis for the 42 other States!

    • tank20101955

      look at Spain, they legalized just about everything and their crime rate has been cut in half and drug use is way down by kids. aids is dropping like a rock being they give the junkies free needles, and don’t bust their balls every time they see them.

  • calvet11

    Everyone should not make the mistake to think that Jeff Sessions is dumb by any stretch of the imagination. He is a career politician-lawyer-Alabama good old boy. He can read and has lot’s of people to give him advice and he is sly. He knows all about cannabis, there is someone in the background giving him some very bad advice. Now the trick is finding out who this is and exposing who or whatever they are. “Big Something” has a hard hold one somebody’s balls.

  • RadRadley

    What a dufus! I guess it’s –
    Back to the dark ages!

    • TheContrarian
      • RadRadley

        I read the article. YOU ought to read that little clip you’re posting all over this discussion. It sez right in it that he considers it illegal regardless of what the states do! He’s the federal prosecuter. Do you really think this rightwing puke is going to ignore federal laws being ignored? Not to mention the revenge factor: Most if not all the states that have legalized mj are blue!

        • Excuse me

          A previous Leafly article pointed out that the voting for legalization was across party lines in the last election. As I opined regarding that article, many people–right and left in the political spectrum–observed the states who pioneered recreational , i.e. Washington and Oregon, and they saw the chicken littles were wrong about the harm legalization would cause or perhaps they were simply attracted to the tax dollars, and decided legalization was the lesser of two evils after all.
          The nation as a whole has shifted its attitude about weed. The whole of this discussion again raises the question, why didn’t Obama push for rescheduling of Cannabis during the 8 years he had in office? What held him back? Certainly not Jeff Sessions. Could it be all the Federal employees who would need new jobs? Obama already grew the Federal payroll significantly–perhaps he did not want to be involved with the retirement or retraining of thousands of Federal employees tasked with Cannabis enforcement.

        • tank20101955

          don’t forget the patriot act which allows any drug enforcement or law enforcement agency, to confiscate all cash and vehicles and property and to liquidate all seizures and use those funds for their own operating expenses. thats why the DEA loves to hit the California growers so often during the beginning of the medical cannabis program in California, its a great and easy source of free cash to cover all the over time they want so they can set up more legal growers who by the way all have cash on hand.

          • RadRadley

            Patriot act my arse, Seems like facism to me!

        • TheContrarian

          That’s his opinion. He also says “states can pass the laws they choose.”

          • RadRadley

            “The position of Attorney General was created by the Judiciary Act of 1789. In June 1870 Congress enacted a law entitled “An Act to Establish the Department of Justice.” This Act established the Attorney General as head of the Department of Justice and gave the Attorney General direction and control of U.S. Attorneys and all other counsel employed on behalf of the United States.”
            His opinion is the one that matters! I believe that was said with a bit of derision, esp. If you look at the last line of your clip.

  • Turk B.

    …what a insipid little twit….soon they will be teaching flat earth theories with this gang of geniuses…

  • Excuse me

    Session’s info is not wrong, IF he is talking about weed that comes through the cartels. And yes, there has been violence involved with Humboldt Country grow operations (as well as other regions), but those occasional instances of violence are far outweighed by the incidences of violence related to consumption of alcohol on any Saturday night in Watsonville, California (as well as EVERY town across the USA). (They are also minimal compared to the perception of violence created by an armed hit squad descending from helicopters to tear up a bunch of plants.)
    The concept of perception is apropos of this discussion in another way. Sessions, being a non-user, knows how many people who use weed medicinally or recreationally? Probably close to zero. He may be an ideologue with images of “Reefer Madness” playing in his head. How many Attorneys General on State level smoke weed? If so, how many would admit it? How many law enforcement guys read the studies on violence related to weed, and how many just look back at their careers and see “DRUGS” as a common denominator in violent crime in cases they worked on?
    Sessions is only following his limited vision, and the law the last administration was reticent to change. To answer him and other old-guard critics–and they exist in both parties–the elimination of “unlicensed” grow operations in the “legal” states needs to be a priority position from the so-called “marijuana lobby”. With that established as a platform position, legality, and the tax revenue from it, looks better to everyone except the army of agents, attorneys, and bail bondsmen who thrive on keeping weed illegal.

    • RadRadley

      In both Colorado & Oregon every individual can grow 3-4 plants without any ‘license’ necessary. In Colorado the right to grow 3 marijuana plants is defined in the state constitution!

      • Excuse me

        I think it obvious the discussion of unlicensed operations are related to large operations with the intent to sell. Washington has the same provision for personal supply.

        • RadRadley

          Obvious? I didn’t see any mention of the size of gardens in this discussion. Only medical card holders in Washington state can grow for themselves. No home recreational growing allowed.

          • Excuse me

            Perhaps you should consider the discussion again. Sessions was suggesting that Colorado residents were/could be/ might transport weed to not-legal states. It is obvious to anyone with common sense that requires more than personal use growing to profit from the endeavor. Washington is the only state with no allowance for recreational home growers. They are hoping to change that, but hey, every dollar of sales in Washington is 37% taxed, so it may be an uphill battle.

          • RadRadley

            I like to deal in facts, & the fact is there is NO mention of ‘garden size’ in this article. It seems you’re just reading between the lines to support your hyperbole!

    • tank20101955

      what everybody forgets about is that Big Pharma is willing to paint the palms of every greedy politician, with millions of dollars just to keep cannabis illegal. if and when it becomes legal then Doctors can start using it to seriously treat Cancer patients, which at that time it will cut into Big Pharmas 560 billion dollars a year they make and the cost is supposed to keep going up, but think about just how many diseases are going to be cured using cannabis, and you will see who is behind the push to keep it illegal.

      • Excuse me

        No argument there. Do keep in mind there are treatments, of which there are many–effective or not, toxic or not–and there are cures. Cures are in short supply. Cannabis may prove to be a treatment of low toxicity, and depending on the condition, may be reasonably effective. Many inspirational and anecdotal reports–mine included–aside, researchers will need to work with standardized dosing of CBD and the multitudes of other terpenes in Cannabis to show treatment value, toxicity, etc.

  • Brad Schulz

    I thought it was interesting that almost the same day Sessions made his “violence” remark the asshole in Kansas shot the Indian guy. That guy was drunk witnesses said. The media seemed to focus on his comments “get out of my country” way more than the fact that he was drunk. Of course this kind of violence fommented by alcohol is commonplace.

  • TheContrarian

    Before all of you Libtard helicopter bait get your collective panties in a bunch…