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Jeff Sessions Is Steamed Over Senator’s Cannabis Blockade

February 12, 2018
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, left, arrives for at an opioid summit at US Southern Command in Florida on Feb. 8. (Lynne Sladky/AP)
After Jeff Sessions stepped up his attack on state-legal cannabis, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner decided to retaliate by freezing the Trump administration’s Justice Department nominees. It’s now a month into the blockade, and Sessions is steaming.

“It’s just getting to be frustrating!” the attorney general said in a speech to the National Sheriffs Association on Monday. “We’re trying to confirm a number of important component heads at the Department of Justice,” but “we can’t even get a vote!”


This Senator Is Blocking DOJ Nominees Until Jeff Sessions Backs Off

After Sessions stepped up his threats against state-legal cannabis by rescinding the Cole memo in early January, Gardner vowed to block Trump administration appointments to the Justice Department. As of last week, he had successfully prevented as many as 11 nominations from going to a Senate floor vote. Sessions said Monday that those positions include the heads of the department’s criminal, civil rights, and national security divisions.

The pressure to move those nominees into their positions increased last week with the resignation of Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, the department’s third-ranking official after Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

The candidates are “outstanding nominees”, Sessions added, complaining that Gardner’s blockade was over “unrelated issues.”

“As attorney general, I don’t have the authority to say that something is legal if it’s not legal,” he said.


Jeff Sessions’ (Unfounded) Love Letter to DARE

You can read Sessions’ complete prepared remarks on the Justice Department website or watch the speech on CSPAN. It’s worth watching the video of Sessions’ speech, but mostly to see the look of comic incredulity on his face when he talks about “reversing federal law against marijuana.” Skip to 13:36 or so.

Here’s the section of Sessions’ speech that pertains to cannabis:

Right now, we’re trying to confirm a number of important component heads at the Department of Justice.  That includes a new head of our Criminal Division, our Civil Rights Division, and our National Security Division.  These are critically important components—and outstanding nominees.  Our nominee to lead the National Security Division was approved unanimously in committee.  But because of one senator’s concerns over unrelated political issues—like legalizing marijuana—we can’t even get a vote.

I’m Attorney General of the United States.  I don’t have the authority to say that something is legal when it is illegal—even if I wanted to.  I cannot and will not pretend that a duly enacted law of this country—like the federal ban on marijuana—does not exist. Marijuana is illegal in the United States—even in Colorado, California, and everywhere else in America.

We need our nominees confirmed.  Safety and security are just too important.

More than 587,000 Americans were arrested for simple cannabis possession in 2016. That’s more than the number arrested for all violent crimes combined.

Ben Adlin's Bio Image

Ben Adlin

Ben Adlin is a Seattle-based writer and editor who specializes in cannabis politics and law. He was a news editor for Leafly from 2015-2019. Follow him on Twitter: @badlin

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  • Jimbolovey

    It is almost a tragedy the way pot was put on schedule 1. Along with some very big heavyweights. Pot was put on that by another fool that wanted attention to his office. Much like the little elf sessions. Pot does not meet the criterion for schedule 1 except in sessions own mind. I smoked a lot of pot in my youth and I never wanted to do heroin. It would help with my chronic pain now that I am 68yrs. Old. I had a great career as a nurse. As a nurse i seen other nurses try to wean older people off of pain meds. I always said why? They are in pain. They are elderly. What difference does it make.

    • Mickey A. Dressler

      You sound just like me. I’m a retired nurse and can relate to everything you wrote.

    • DonR

      I agree 100% with what you have said. And, I too am a 61 y.o. nurse (retired from 35 years as a CRNA) and have chronic pain from surgery years ago. A pain I would give anything to get off pain medication for. The stigma of using pot, even in a state that has legalized the medical use of it, is incredible. Originally, the schedule 1 drugs included experimental and otherwise unclassified substances. This is likely why marijuana was included. However, there are some glaring discrepancies. While LSD remains schedule I, Ketamine (also a dissociative – identical in action) is schedule III (at least in the U.S.). Now that we have “experimented” this long and know the intricacies of these substances, isn’t it time we schedule them at the level they belong so that those who can benefit will have access to them?

      • Charles Le

        I am 62 Years Young and I have been Smoking every Day give or take a Day ! And I will Smoke Weed until the Day I DIE ! And they can Shove they`er PILLS and They`er POLITICIANS RIGHT UP THEY`ER OWN CRIMINAL SHIT BAG ASSES !

    • Rick Pauley

      Here, here!

  • Kevin Lord

    GO CORY!!!

  • Tom Mayer

    Sessions must be fired. Congress has the power to reschedule cannabis or take it off the list so it can be legal throughout the U.S. Trump said it should be up to the States to decide this issue. So we must all contact your Congressman and demand cannabis legalization. Let’s all protest in front of the White House and make a lot of noise.

    • Rick Pauley

      Trump is the only person who could fire Sessions. That ain’t gonna happen because it would be admitting a mistake. Trump is not going to fire the little troll.

    • Donald K Ingram

      He is trying to force Congress to take up the issue! Condemning him is working against you!

  • lastword

    back off the attack on pot simpleton. America has a different view about pot than you do and that reflects on your difficulty now. It’s not rocket science.

  • malcolmkyle

    There is 90% support for medical, and 65% support for recreational cannabis, yet this white-sheet wearing buffoon believes he can hold back progress without any resistance from the rest of us.

    Jeff Sessions, your name will go down in history, but not the way you wish it. Please get a clue, or at least stand aside and allow the grown-ups a turn!

    • James crow

      Its easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.

  • Grow Your Own

    I support President Trump but I Do Not Support his Pick for AG Sessions!
    I agree AG Session’s doesn’t have “the authority to say that something is legal if it’s not legal,” That is True. AG Sessions can start to Support the Wish of the American People instead of Blocking it any chance he can.
    Over Half Of The American Voting Bloc 68% support the Legalization of Cannabis in the USA but Sessions seems to be Unaware of the Wish of the American People. Sessions needs to Support the Wish of the American or Submit his Resignation ASAP.
    Good Move by the Senator of a “Cannabis Friendly State Colorado” to Make Session’s take notice of His States Views On the Legalization of Cannabis!

    • Mark Godfrey

      Donald Trump despises marijuana, I have no idea where the idea came from Trumpers that he wouldn’t crack down. Wishful thinking with zero evidence.

  • david fellows

    Sessions is a racist idiot that lives in the past. This clown needs to go…I hope Mueller is investigating his role in the Russian conspiracy and puts his arse in jail with those incarcerated for doing nothing but smoking marijuana.

    • Donald K Ingram

      He is right…marijuana IS federally illegal! Get onto the LAWMAKERS to change the law!

  • Mark Godfrey

    HHAAHHAHAAHHAHAHAHAHAHAH oh cripes that is so funny.

    If Jeff Sessions is hell bent on enforcing this ridiculous law, that is totally fine. Just be honest to Senator Gardner about that PRIOR TO BEING CONFIRMED and Sessions wouldn’t be in this mess. Laughing to tears over here.

  • Joe Byrne

    I’m all for blocking ANYTHING if it gets session’s attention. He’s a fool and should step down and let an adult do that job.

  • James crow

    We are tired of being lied to about Marijuana, Jeff Session’s your ship is taking on water and there is a storm coming and its us, the American people. We are no longer going to be sheep who believe every lie out of your mouth, step down Mr Sessions we do not want or need you any longer, if we ever did, nuff said.

    • Snegurochka

      The Trumptanic is heading for the bottom.

      • Linda

        not fast enough IMO

      • Charles Le

        More like the TRUMP TOILET IS FLUSHING!

  • gino pic

    we know its not the publics health he Is worried about, fighting for big tobacco for years.
    its big money to arrest people for cannabis and he is worried about the whole chain getting less income.

    Sessions is in court tomorrow for a lawsuit against him by a 12year old ex pro football player and others.
    I just have to know how he is going to respond to it.

  • freewheelinfranklin543

    Those private prisons that gave Sessions and Trump money want their prisoners and they want them now! Gotta make good on the payoff!

  • claygooding

    He can take cannabis off Schedule 1 anytime he wants too because he us authorized by our national drug policy to do so.
    If he wasn’t a science denier and vested in the industrial prison stocks he would.

    • 360dunk

      No, it’s up to Congress to initiate the legislation. Taking cannabis off the controlled substance list was first attempted in the Senate in 2015 and revitalized in 2017. The effort was to get it switched to Schedule 3.

      • You need to read the controlled substances act. It explicitly says that the Attorney General has the power and the authority and the responsibility to rescedule substances as required by new science.

        • 360dunk

          Of course Sessions can remove it but obviously he won’t so the only feasible methods are an act of Congress or the DEA. Like Sessions, the DEA has publicly said they won’t. So that leaves Congress… I said.

      • claygooding

        If you carefully read the 1988 Re-Authorization act there are three bureaucrats with the power to remove cannabis from Schedule 1,,DEA Admin,,DOJ Admin and the FDA Admin. It is up to each if cannabis is safe enough or has any approved medical use,,which is the very essence of the big lies they have used to keep cannabis where it is.

  • h5mind

    Raise of hands for those who think the marijuana discussion is more important than treason and election meddling by the previous administration, Hillary Clinton, and all the alphabet agencies? Talk about fiddling while Rome burns…

  • 360dunk

    Hey bonehead…if safety and security are so important, why are you trying to make America less safe and less secure by strengthening foreign drug cartels and smugglers? Because that’s what happens when you DON’T allow Americans to purchase their cannabis at dispensaries. You force us to buy on the black market, which in turn means more profits for the Zetas and less tax revenue for our communities. Are you THAT freaking dense to not get this concept? Wake up, Jeff Sessions.

    • Charles Le

      Why not Stop the Flow of HEROIN into the USA by the CIA ! Forgot about that one huh ! Government a whole Lot of MONEY FROM HEROIN SALES ! And the Fucking SCUM BAGS TRY TO BLAME WEED ! AMERIKA IS A SCAM A SHAM AND SHIT HOLE OF GOVERNMENT CRIME !

  • Prioritize problems by Cause of Death and Emergency Room Admissions and leave your religion and ideology out of it. Under those guidelines, the most lives are saved and cannabis never comes up.

  • Sativa53

    These senile geriatric men from the 1950’s who still think they can bring back their world of racism, war, pomade slick back coiffure hair and intolerance that they had before is on their last breath. The wave for legalization is forthcoming, just to watch Sessions and his opioid donors just age away with the legacy of this bumbling administration is pleasure enough..

    • J R Scott

      I’m 70 and not senile! I just have Cancer for the last 18 months. I was a draft dodger in the Vietnam war. So stick to things you know about.

      • Sativa53

        Congrats on being 70, I am 64. I was not referring to you on my comment but more on Sessions and this whole administration. I also am a medical marijuana patient thus this thing I know about. Don’t assume….

        • J R Scott

          Apologies excepted. I’m still learning and will be as well. This thing with the little emperor will pass. I believe our republic will servive. Just remember “ The emperor has no clothes “ .

  • 360dunk

    Kudos to Senator Gardner for standing up to Jeff Secessionist on this issue. That’s hundreds of MILLIONS in tax revenue benefiting schools and communities in a lot of states that this unfit-for-office clown wants to piss away. America has spoken and we want freedom of choice.

  • Snegurochka

    So sad about Jefferson Beauregard getting stonewalled.

    All together now: “awwwwww!”

  • Gargoylz

    I am astounded and appalled that this battle continues in 2018, a time by which our society should be much more enlightened. How can so many people be on favor of outright legalization yet so many of the politicians who are supposed to represent those people continue to live in the dark ages? For so many of us cannabis is an incredible medicine which replaces prescriptions which cause innumerable harmful aside effects. Not a single person in the history of people has died from cannabis overdose, a fact that can not even be applied to water for the love of God. Increased scientific studies and facts are proving their antiquated ways of thinking to be what they truly are, LIES. Those attempting to block access to cannabis seek only to harm their fellow man in favor of their own self interest, misguided ideologies and greed. I’m sure the pharmaceutical companies have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo and continuing to line their pockets with blood money. Part of that money goes to politicians and law makers to perpetuate the stigma against cannabis. The whole thing is truly disgusting.

  • Keith Anderson

    How much you making from big pharma Sessions. Do us a favor and take a big handful of those pills made with chemicals in a lab since they are so good for you. Pretty sad to see cannabis helping little kids with seizures but you call it a joke.

  • MV 1967

    It is simple Jeff. Reinstate the Cole memo.

  • TOBY T

    I wonder if anyone, of any authority, has ever taken into consideration Jeff Sessions mental stability?

  • Linda

    You know what kills me is that we have an “opioid crisis” now in this country. Licensed, supposedly educated, god like physicians prescribing them for everyone and I’m pretty up to date on the news etc. I have yet to see a single doctor called on the carpet for their negligence in treating people with chronic pain. Where is there responsibility and accountability in the problem. Jeff Sessions belief system is askew, he is in a position of power to mess with average people ability to take their health into their own hands since our medical community refuse to do set down the prescription pad and become true “physicians”. His personal bias is on display and he uses the old GOP tactics of accuse your opponents of doing what you yourself do and tell a lie enough many people will believe it. He is a true troll.

  • Linda

    I’m planning on calling Cory Gardner and thank him for what he is doing…here are several phone numbers if any of you would like to do the same: 202-224-5941, 719-543-1324, 719-632-6706, 303-391-5777,,,,

  • farmerlion

    How ironic it will be when Sessions contracts cancer. Suffering from the pains of chemotherapy and his pride will keep him from comfort. While others suffer because of his arrogance and ignorance . May he in the last moments of life finally receive comfort . Jeff your legacy is in the opinions of others. Not in your view of yourself. May your time of realization come swiftly.

  • Tom Ethen

    I think the real, and only reason Trump chose Sessions, is his tough stand against illegal immigration. That’s just fine with me, but Sessions just keeps putting his foot in his mouth with the marijuana issue. Listen to your boss and allow the states to make their own decisions about the legalization issue. Jeff Sessions is another “Southern good ol’ boy”, who needs to stick to the important issues, like immigration.

  • Rick Pauley

    Screw Jeff Sessions & everyone else in this unholy WH. Thank you, Sen.Gardner!

  • TweetyBird

    I hope he’s so steamed he gives himself a stroke.

  • J R Scott

    Why are so many people so hateful? You sound the same as the people you are complaining about!

  • patriot156

    cannot and will not pretend that a duly enacted law of this country
    You’re so full of sh*t Sessions you make me sick.
    The states that enacted to legalize marijuana done so under the heading of what the 10th amendment says. Those not already prohibited against in the constitution belong to the states. marijuana was never legally made illegal to begin with so Suck big D**k.
    I’m pro second amendment and pro legal weed so….

  • patriot156

    When people shall say… peace and safety/peace and security… then sudden destruction comes. He says that in his POS speech.
    Scares me to death too… this POS, and his 50’s mind set.

  • Chino780

    Sessions is an old dinosaur, and needs to go.

  • Although it’s generally true that the attorney general doesn’t get to decide what is legal and what is illegal with respect to cannabis his remarks were a blatant lie. The controlled substances act explicitly puts responsibility for rescheduling substances in the hands of the attorney general of the United States. Anyone can go look it up; it’s his job in fact under the law to periodically review the schedules and, considering modern scientific evidence, change the schedules as appropriate. The fact that no Attorney General has done this is just negligence.

  • Jim Goodrich

    Make it legal!

  • John Shaffer

    King Keebler is simply pathetic!

  • Charles Le

    More Bogus Bull Shit from Department Of Injustice ! Where the Criminals Write the LAWS !

  • Robert

    Sessions is right out of our horrendous Nixon past, and he should be brought up on charges after Mueller completes his investigation and charged with violations of citizen’s rights to compassionate medical marijuana, as we overwhelmingly approve of such measures, as well as his part in violating the sovereignty of our very democracy in his role of obstructing the Russian investigation. We know very well that he is racist, bigoted by way of the Southern Christian Right Wing Crusade.