Pot Advocates Protest Jeff Sessions’ AG Nomination

D.C. group says Alabama senator could roll back progress on legalization

Members of the Washington, D.C., marijuana rights group DCMJ stand outside the Capitol Hill office of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions on Monday to protest his statements on marijuana use. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A small group of marijuana advocates protested Sen. Jeff Sessions’ potential confirmation as attorney general at the Capitol on Monday, saying it could roll back years of state-based progress toward legalization.

“We have a slogan, ‘Smoke Sessions,’” said Adam Eidinger, co-founder of the DCMJ advocacy group. “We don’t want him.”

Legalization advocates have sounded alarms in the week since President-elect Donald Trump nominated the Alabama Republican, one of Congress’ staunchest opponents of legalization.

On Monday, the group of just over a dozen demonstrators was granted a private meeting with two members of Sessions’ staff, who assured them that their concerns would be passed on, according to several people who were in the room. They left the senator a red T-shirt printed with the motto “Great Americans evolve on issues like cannabis.”

The phrase is a mashup of Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” and Sessions’ statement at an April Senate hearing that has struck fear among legalization advocates: “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

The group also visited New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer’s office to ask Democrats on the Judiciary Committee to block the nomination. Schumer serves on the committee and will become Senate minority leader in January. The protestors did not get a meeting.

Both Schumer and Sessions’ offices declined requests for comment.

Sessions has called for stronger leadership from Washington to enforce federal laws that criminalize marijuana. Such action would reverse the hands-off philosophy of the Obama administration and throw into question the status of thousands of businesses that have been operating in states that have voted to legalize marijuana for medical and recreational use.

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