Jeff Sessions Won’t ‘Commit’ to Letting You Smoke Pot — Even Where It’s Legal Under State Law

 In Legalization, National News, Regulation

A lot of the questions and answers during the first day of Jeff Sessions’s Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing have involved efforts to characterize or recharacterize his past record, and to test whether he will operate independently from the erratic president-elect who appointed him. But one line of questioning with real news value did not come up until well into the afternoon: How will this zealous soldier in the War on Drugs deal with state laws legalizing marijuana?

We still don’t really know the answer, because Sessions endorsed two principles that are in conflict. In answer to a question from Senator Pat Leahy about the Obama administration Justice Department’s decision to look the other way with respect to federal-pot-law enforcement in the legalizing states as a resource decision, Sessions said that decision made sense, but:

“I won’t commit to never enforcing federal law,” Mr. Sessions says. He adds: “But absolutely, it’s a problem of resources for the federal government.”

A few minutes later, after Senator Mike Lee asked if a refusal to enforce laws against pot violate the constitutional principle of separation of powers, Sessions again agreed, and suggested that if Congress wanted to repeal the existing laws it should do so.


Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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