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Jeff Sessions Ready to Ramp Up More Asset Forfeitures

July 17, 2017
Attorney General Jeff Sessions smiles as he testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 13, 2017, before the Senate Intelligence Committee. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, following up on his revival of mandatory minimum sentences and the federal use of private for-profit prisons, today announced plans to ramp up the widely discredited practice of civil asset forfeiture.

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Speaking at a National District Attorneys Association meeting in Minneapolis, Sessions said that he and the Justice Department plan on reviving the controversial practice of taking assets from citizens who haven’t been convicted or even charged with a crime.

“We hope to issue this week a new directive on asset forfeiture — especially for drug traffickers,” Sessions said in prepared remarks.

Civil asset forfeiture is a concept that has its roots in ancient British maritime law, but was widely introduced in the United States in the 1980s, when federal and state authorities used provisions of the 1984 Comprehensive Crime Control Act and other measures to strip ill-gotten gains from big-time drug traffickers.

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In the decades since, the practice has trickled down into policing at nearly every level, and has resulting in notorious abuses in states across the nation. In 2014, the Washington Post ran a six-part investigative series that documented the ways in which civil asset forfeiture was “turning our police forces into present-day Robin Hoods.”

As the site, Reason posted, asset forfeiture was a prized commodity used by law enforcement in the battle against organized drug cartels in the 1980s. In recent years, both liberal and conservative groups have called for an end to the practice, or at least a major effort at reform. Giving law enforcement officials a profit incentive, coupled with a lack of oversight, has led to innocent average citizens getting their property seized with little avenue for redress.

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Jeff Sessions Asks Congress to End Medical Cannabis Protections

Soon after Sessions speech on Monday, Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah cautioned the DOJ to not overstep its bounds. According to Buzzfeed News, Lee noted that Justice Clarence Thomas wanted the Supreme Court to hear a case challenging asset forfeiture.

This new policy could directly affect the cannabis industry, which is legal in many states but remains against federal law nationwide. As Leafly Associate Editor Ben Adlin pointed out on Twitter, nothing in the text of Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment—the legislation that prohibits the DOJ from spending funds to interfere with state medical marijuana laws—prohibits the DOJ from seizing the assets of cannabis businesses.

Under President Obama, then-Attorney General Eric Holder scaled back the federal asset forfeiture program that split the proceeds with state and local police. The new Justice Department policy, if and when it’s officially announced, would presumably override that 2015 reform.

Bruce Barcott and Gage Peake's Bio Image

Bruce Barcott and Gage Peake

Leafly Deputy Editor Bruce Barcott is a Guggenheim Fellow and the author of Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America. Gage Peake is a Leafly staff writer and a recent journalism graduate of the University of Nebraska.

View Bruce Barcott and Gage Peake's articles

  • FlunkedAgain

    RUSSIA !!!

    • Dorothy

      The little troll will one day ride in on his dinosaur and attempt to implement and enforce his prehistoric attitude on pot onto the people. Goodness it surprises me that he doesn’t seem to have the ability to read. The information surrounding pot and its benefits is everywhere and if you can’t see that, he mustn’t be able to read. Besides the actual good in respect to health that it contributes, legalizing it in every capacity will do more for his war on DRUGS than any other single effort they have tried. How has this man existed in this world and made it to the upper echelon is an absolute mystery.

  • lovingc

    I would love to see that smirk wiped off Sessionss face. He is one of the most evil people in the administration. That is saying something considering Trump, Bannon,and the children are evil in their own ways. This mania for harsh sentencing which has been proved to exacerbate the problems they are trying to solve, is futile and wrong.

  • Steven L. Brock IV

    LiL bastard he has no clue wtf he is even doing,the Attainder Act is so bogus,all i can say if i get pulled over and have 2 or 3 thousand on me they will not take it ,it will be a bad day for all.

  • Steven L. Brock IV

    Thank the Lord I’m not a badman,,

  • heywally

    When dinosaurs ruled …..

  • SandyLester

    He has got to be removed as AG.
    He is insane or has dementia.

    • Gary Craig

      Or both!

    • freewheelinfranklin543

      He is paying off the private prison industry. He renewed their contracts and needs a 90% occupancy rate. They paid for Trump’s inauguration. Sessions plans to use the asset seizure laws to seize the monies and properties of the big Cannabis industry people to finance his war on Cannabis from top to bottom. Businessman to patient and recreational user.
      Congress wont fund or authorize his Reefer Madness so he plans on stealing and selling the American peoples property and money to fund his war on pot. He also has to keep big pharma and big alcohol in the chips.
      This is one dirty corrupt deal.

  • John Pack

    Sessions is a evil little man. He can go to hell.

  • Jason Wing

    If Session is too “BLIND” to see what legalization can do at even the state level why does “Drump” keep him in office. Seeing as “Drump” is a business man he should be able to see the opportunity for revenue and reduced crime. Oh I forget,they want cheap labor,crooks 😕

  • Thomy

    I am 62 years old and I have been comprehending the presidency of the United States ever since John F. Kennedy was elected. I have never, ever seen an administration that was so full of controversy than the Trump administration. Under the circumstances, I have to believe, that eventually, even Trump and Sessions are going to bump heads badly and that will be the end of Jeff Sessions’ AG assignment and I’m truly appalled that it’s lasted this long, considering all that Jeff Sessions is trying to implement or re implement such as the War On Drugs. I am a liberal on a political level, my closest friend is strictly conservative and yet, we both agree, that if what they’re saying about some of the decisions Trump has recently made and the way his Attorney General is trying to run his business is really true, that there’s no way this country is going to continue much longer, under an administration that’s so messed up like this one. In the history of this country, it’s never been worse. The sad thing, is that it’s quite correctable and a lot could be solved by simply replacing Sessions and telling Chris Christie to find another place to park. Both Sessions and Christie are relying upon what’s left of an old, outdated and draconian way of law, that they feel there’s enough support, still left in the country, to be successful at striking down new laws that are clearly not what the American people want for their country and quite frankly, they both, stand to profit heavily, if the new laws are reversed. It’s not a secret that Sessions is heavily invested in the private prison system and in Big Pharma stocks in the U.S. and with the new laws in effect, he stands to lose considerably if the Cannabis industry and U.S. voters are allowed to continue its trend towards legalization at the federal level. According to many figures, 40% of the U.S. prison population in the U.S., is in prison for Cannabis related convictions, based on those same old and outdated draconian laws. It is the direct reason prisons nation wide are over populated… The “3 strikes your out” law is also another failure, mainly because of the ridiculous ramifications a former prison inmate is required to follow when they are released from prison and any prosecutor or attorney would agree that it’s likely the former inmates will re offend and end up back in prison, just for not following those ramifications perfectly after being released. Many of these former inmates can and will go back to jail, with a life sentence for possessing a single “joint” with the old, 3 strikes your out laws in effect, even if they’re found in possession of a joint in a state where state law permit it. Nearly 80% of the voting U.S. public, is in favor of legalizing Medical Cannabis and yet they still choose to have a war with their own people. What Sessions and Christie are implementing is a dictatorship. In other words, they don’t care what you want and you’ll do exactly as you’re told to do or else… That’s clearly dictating folks and that exactly why we need to remove these two idiots from their positions completely.

    • Gary Craig

      Clearly this administration can’t get out of its own way. It’s pretty clear, as far as cannabis is concerned,Trump has Sessions in one ear with Christie in the other. That’s not good, at all!

      • john cooley

        Roger Stone Trumps friend and
        Documentarian wants Trump
        To DE SCHEDULE cannabis by
        Executive order. Trump can and
        Should do so; as evidence it is time
        Even a DEA administrator under
        Reagan recommended it to a
        Congressional committee under
        Oath

        • Gary Craig

          Judge Young, I believe. He said cannabis, in its natural form, was the safest substance, or something of that nature. The DEA, of course, overruled their own judge. This plant, that’s what it is, should’ve been legalized years, and years ago.

          • Dorothy

            It should never have been made illegal. That was another amazing time in history. The tax act said you had to apply to the govt to allow the pot but when and if you were foolish enough to apply, you would be arrested for possession. Govt has not changed in all these years. Trump is not totally responsible for the archaic measures being taken, but he has not positively moved forward which would settle all the misgivings in regard to the legalities of owning, growing, consuming or trading in this product.

  • Steven L. Brock IV

    The Forfeiture act was designed to take big time drug dealers down and dismantle whatever assets they have,no us everyday people,but we get targeted,because it is more convenient,sad thing,we don’t need a gov’mt like that at all,,

  • Steven L. Brock IV

    To me they have this problem,the more laws and orders are made prominent,the more thieves and robbers will be.

  • Joan Wilcox- Glanville

    He is evil in its purest form 🙁

  • Mike Dehler

    I don’t know if you know Jessie Ventura he had a show called conspiracy factor and he would always say if you want to know what’s going on fallow the money trail and mr sessions has possible two i see so far that are possible reasons for his thinking. He said that he wanted to see more of the private run prisons used and that in itself nor real red flag. Then comes his statement of going after the MM J and arresting and seizing assets of dispensary owner and growers when they were fallowing the state guide lines to be in compliance with the new federal law on leaving the states alone as long as they are complying with the new federal law that was passed not too long ago. Now with that said he knows that the big Pharma is going to take a hell of a hit from the cannabis products because you can literally replace all those Pharma drugs with one or more of the over 2000 strains of marijuana that can replace anything they make with out killing people from overdose and allergic reactions and that my friend throws a red flag up for me. If some one was being paid or gifted for keeping marijuana illegal keeps the money flowing to waiting hands also from the private prison industry that he wants to utilize so damn bad and to me well you do the math what do you think is going on because that looks like a money trail to me. I’m sure there are other factors involved also but it’s food for thought. It just seems like something wrong with that picture lol.

  • Izzat So

    Sessions lied to the Senate committee but was approved as AG anyway. I think they knew what kind of a throwback to the 50’s he would be, and that’s just what they wanted.

  • Shoreline1

    Our government has the largest military budget in the world so that it can dominate other countries of the world by force if it can’t get it’s way by other means. Similarly our government has the largest LE budget in the world to dominate the people of the United States, frequently by force. The people of the United States, Americans, must live under more laws, rules, and regulations, along with vastly more enforcement, than any other country on earth. America has the highest incarceration rate in the world, which means it has the highest penalty rate to citizens, which means it has the highest rate of citizens being hassled by LE in the world. And we are supposed to believe that this is the “land of the free”? That our government speaks out around the world in terms of human rights without extreme hypocrisy? That supporting our government is “patriotic”? That according to our media, the story of the day is how bad Trump and Russia are, while our freedoms and liberties are evaporating before our eyes? And our elected representatives don’t seem to notice, they are happy the way things are, ignorance is bliss?

  • lovingc

    Jeffy boy I know you just forgot about this but,
    No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
    In case you forgot that is a direct quote from the Constitution of the United States witch you swore an oath to uphold and protect!

  • Robert Gerus

    I see he Sessions has cancer around the eyes, must be from that obsession he has, well it couldn’t of happened to a better politician rat bastard and his obsession with marijuana, I wonder if he is wearing marijuana underwear ha ha ha lol