Attorney General Jeff Sessions has decided that the Department of Justice will start 2018 by launching a war on marijuana a move that is attracting massive blowback from all over the political spectrum. The decision is a nonsensical shift that will tie up millions while real crimes and dangerous drugs like opioids continue to flourish.
Sessions announced Thursday that the Department of Justice is rescinding memos introduced during the Obama administration that discouraged federal prosecution of marijuana crimes if states pass legislation allowing for the sale of the product. In the statement accompanying the decision, Sessions said the regressive move would give U.S. attorneys "tools to disrupt criminal organizations, tackle the growing drug crisis, and thwart violent crime across our country."
The decision comes just three days after California officially legalized recreational use of marijuana, becoming the biggest state to do so after five other states enacted similar laws. The Golden State has been a major thorn in Donald Trump's side. He lost the state by a nearly 2:1 margin to Hillary Clinton, who won 61.6 percent of votes to Trump's 32.8 percent a difference of nearly 4 million votes. Trump also has an anemic 22 percent approval rating in California, well below the approval ratings for the state's Democratic lawmakers.
Going after the marijuana businesses that have popped up in California and Colorado another state he lost would fit with the pattern of vindictive behavior that Trump and his fellow Republicans have demonstrated toward "blue" states.
The decision to target marijuana is being slammed as misguided and completely out of touch with where American priorities lie in 2018.
"Instead of going after drug cartels, and violent crime, and major traffickers, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is going after recreational marijuana users," Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) said. "Thats not being smart on crime."
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) issued similar criticism. "Our country is in the midst of an opioid crisis and the AG is going to divert resources to cracking down on medical marijuana?"
"DOJ should investigate how pharma helped create the opioid crisis, not institute policies that take marijuana based medicines from patients and needlessly target non-violent minority youths," she added.
Other lawmakers noted that the move is likely to worsen existing inequalities in policing and incarceration, compounding other racist policies that Sessions has advocated for.
"Jeff Sessions determination to revive the failed War on Drugs knows no bounds," Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) said in a statement. "History has shown that our deeply broken drug laws disproportionately harm low-income communities and communities of color and cost us billions annually in enforcement, incarceration, and wasted human potential, without making us any safer."
The official Twitter account of the Colorado State Senate Democratic Caucus also joined in, slamming Sessions' decision and not-so-subtly pointing out that his time might be better spent on other activities.
"Instead of using taxpayer resources to go after a drug that's safer than alcohol, Jeff Sessions should focus on political corruption and white collar crime," it tweeted. "Seems like there's plenty of that to go around in DC."
Cory Gardner, Colorado's Republican senator, chimed in as well, making a speech on the Senate floor in opposition to Sessions' move. He pointed out that the vindictive move could put thousands of jobs in his home state at risk, as well as millions in revenue. Gardner said he would withhold support for Justice Department nominees until the policy is clarified.
Acting on orders from Donald Trump who once claimed he would leave marijuana laws alone Sessions has managed to unify politicians across the aisle in opposition to yet another regressive and vindictive policy.