Well, that didn’t take long.
Just a day ago, Alabamians (well, at least most of us) were breathing a sigh of relief as Doug Jones was sworn in as the state’s junior U.S. Senator.
No matter which party’s flag you wave, let’s admit it was nice to bask in the afterglow of the positivity about the state emanating from the nation’s capital as Jones was welcomed into one of the most elite clubs in the nation–a far cry from the embarrassing chaos at the O.K. Corral that would have certainly ensued had we sent Roy Moore and Sassy to Washington, D.C.
For a day, Alabama was smart. Alabama was progressive.
Alabama looked good for something other than football.
But Sessions happens, alas.
And it did, as it has all too often since the man whose seat Jones now occupies–former U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions–became Donald Trump’s pick for U.S. Attorney General a year ago.
Less than 24 hours after Jones placed his hand on a family Bible and officially took his seat among the 100 men and women who represent Americans in the Senate, Sessions once again made us look like buffoons, like troglodytes who live in an America that has long since passed into prehistoric oblivion.
An America where injustice is justice, where immigration is an invasion of our sanctity, and where the powerful (no matter how outmoded their thinking) know what is best for us–particularly when it comes to the evil that is marijuana.
Like that crotchety uncle who throws tantrums and laments how things used to be, Sessions went all Reefer Madness on us on Thursday. He announced that the Department of Justice was making it easier for the feds to prosecute Americans for breaking federal marijuana laws–even in states where it is legal–by rescinding a policy that called for noninterference in the weed biz in those states where it is as legal as chewing gum.
Yes, the policy was yet-another Obama-era action, reaffirming that Sessions and his boss came to Washington not with any new ideas for moving America forward, but only hellbent on eradication each and every move made by Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama.
Even policies such as this, which support their avowed but now clearly hypocritical belief in states’ rights.
A policy clearly aligned with the 64 percent of Americans who support legalizing marijuana, according to a Gallup poll released last October.
Citizens in eight states and the District of Columbia have passed laws decriminalizing marijuana. It’s just another free-market product–like bread, eggs, cheese, cigarettes, etc.–subject of course to local and state taxes.
Lots of taxes.
Indeed, legal marijuana sales totaled $6.7 billion in the U.S, and Canada in 2016, according to a report last year by ArcView Research.
One state, Colorado, reported about $500 million in taxes on weed sales between 2014 and last year; almost half supported the state’s public schools.
Imagine what kind of impact that would have on a cash-strapped, educationally challenged state like, oh, ours.
The timing of Sessions’ latest Neanderthal-like tantrum is as transparent as his disdain for almost any ideas and ideals generated in the last quarter century. On Monday, the first day of the new year, California, the most populous state in the nation, began allowing legal marijuana sales.
Marijuana will hit the retail market in Massachusetts on July 1, and Maine on some date thereafter.
Sessions is so out of touch with America his latest move incensed people on both sides of the aisle.
Indeed some of the most vociferous reactions came from Sessions’ fellow Republicans.
Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner tweeted the Sessions "trampled on the will of the voters in CO and other states…" and threatened to stall DOJ nominees until the Obama policy is reinstated.
This reported action directly contradicts what Attorney General Sessions told me prior to his confirmation. With no prior notice to Congress, the Justice Department has trampled on the will of the voters in CO and other states.
— Cory Gardner (@SenCoryGardner) January 4, 2018
I am prepared to take all steps necessary, including holding DOJ nominees, until the Attorney General lives up to the commitment he made to me prior to his confirmation.
— Cory Gardner (@SenCoryGardner) January 4, 2018
Interestingly, Republicans Mark Meadows (N.C.) and Jim Jordan (Ohio) were even more scathing in an Op-Ed published in the Washington Examiner that was clearly written before today’s announcement. They slammed the DOJ’s role the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election–and investigation from which Sessions recused himself.
"…it would appear [Sessions] has no control at all of the premier law enforcement agency in the world," they wrote. "It is time for Sessions to start managing in a spirit of transparency to bring all improper behavior to light and stop further violations. If Sessions can’t address this issue immediately, then we have one final question needed an answer: When is it time for a new attorney general? Sadly, it seems the answer is now."
Jeff Sessions has long not represented Alabama to the nation in the manner many of us want to be seen.
Especially not now.
We can be better. We are better.
Better than Sessions, like the crotchety uncle stuck in his antiquated ways, will ever show.
Roy S. Johnson’s column appears in The Birmingham News, the Huntsville Times, the Mobile Register and AL.com. Hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow me at twitter.com/roysj.