Exactly one year ago, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions stoked fears in the marijuana industry by rescinding an Obama-era Justice Department memo that encouraged federal prosecutors to generally not interfere with state cannabis legalization laws. But in the year since, the government has not launched a crackdown, five more states legalized cannabis in some form—with Vermont lawmakers voting to do so on the very same day Sessions made his move—and federal prosecutions for marijuana-related offenses during the 2018 fiscal year, which ended in September, declined by almost a fifth. While the Obama guidance, known as the Cole memo, provided the legal industry with some sense of comfort, advising U.S. attorneys to exercise discretion and enforce federal law in a limited number of circumstances...
Trump’s bizarre vendetta against Sessions has apparently disguised for some the fact that the president couldn’t have asked for a more loyal underling than Sessions, his recusal aside. One need only do a quick survey of Sessions’ handiwork over the last two years to see why. In other words, Sessions’ continued occupancy of the attorney general’s office was vastly more detrimental to democracy and the rule of law than the closing of Mueller’s investigation ever could be. No one should be nostalgic for his tenure.
Jeff Sessions Interrupted By Religious Leaders During Speech, Tell Him To ‘Repent’ And ‘Care For Those In Need’
Attorney General Jeff Sessions had just begun his speech at the Boston Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society on Monday when he was interrupted by two religious leaders in protest. Sessions was due to speak about "the future of religious liberty” when a man who identified himself as a “fellow United Methodist,” the same denomination as Sessions, stood up and began to protest, according to footage of the speech. “Brother Jeff, as a fellow United Methodist, I call upon you to repent,” the man said. “To care for those in need. To remember that when you do not care for others, you are wounding the body of Christ.” The man was likely referring to the Trump administration’s immigration policies.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions came to Portland, Maine to meet with members of local law enforcement and promote “Operation Synthetic Opioid." During the meeting, he called for Maine Sheriffs to “prosecute every readily provable case” involving the distribution of opioids, regardless of drug quantity. Essentially, Sessions wants to solve the opioid crisis by locking more people up. Outside the conference, on Middle Street in Portland, about 150 people protested Sessions' appearance. One of those people was 39-year-old Jessica Stewart, a member of Moral Movement Maine, and Catholic Workers. We spoke with Stewart shortly after her release from Cumberland County Jail about the impact of civil disobedience.
A group of activists led by Ralph Nader is calling on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to create an annual corporate crime database and annual report. “For street crime, the FBI oversees the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, which tracks data from over 18,000 local and state law enforcement agencies,” Nader and his colleagues wrote in a letter to Sessions. “The Department of Justice should launch a parallel program for corporate crime and law-breaking, including but not limited to antitrust and price-fixing, environmental crimes, financial crimes, overseas bribery, health care fraud, trade violations, labor and employment-related violations — discrimination and occupational injuries and deaths — consumer fraud and damage to consumer health and safety, and corporate tax fraud onshore and offshore.”
A group supporting the legalization of marijuana has come up with a nifty fundraising scheme: Rolling papers with the attorney general's image on the packaging. Who better to poke fun at than the cluelessly anti-marijuana Sessions—the man who claims "good people" don't smoke pot, that marijuana is a gateway drug, and who once said he liked the local Ku Klux Klan boys until he found out they smoked weed? The folks at #JeffSesh apparently agreed, selecting the attorney general's visage to grace the packages of "General Jeff's Old Rebel Session Papers," replete with the warning to "Don't Beauregard That Joint My Friend."
There is still no one in Congress who has come out in support of Attorney General Jeff Sessions backward steps on marijuana in either chamber of Congress. He stands alone. In addition, support for positive congressional action is growing but it remains to be seen what US Attorneys will do in states that have legal adult use of marijuana, see the link below to Massachusetts where the federal prosecutor is making no promises that would allow legal adult use. Below is the daily newsletter of the Cannabist from January 9. We will not be publishing these regularly but at this critical moment it is a good snapshot of the immediate trends on marijuana policy after Sessions actions.
The article below by Alicia Wallace a Denver, CO reporter for the Cannabist, describes the decisions by Attorney General Sessions to re-state the Department of Justice policy on marijuana law enforcement in states that have legalized marijuana and examines the legal, investment and business impacts of the decision. Essentially, Sessions has moved decison making to US Attorneys responsible for states that have put in place legal marijuana systems. Each US Attorney in those areas will need to evaluate the situation and decide how to proceed. No doubt they will meet with federal drug enforcement officials as well as state officials before deciding what to do. At this point, prosecutors are being vague in their pronouncements, as seen in Massachusetts.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration threw the burgeoning movement to legalize marijuana into uncertainty Thursday as it lifted an Obama-era policy that kept federal authorities from cracking down on the pot trade in states where the drug is legal. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will now leave it up to federal prosecutors to decide what to do when state rules collide with federal drug law. Sessions’ action, just three days after a legalization law went into effect in California, threatened the future of the young industry, created confusion in states where the drug is legal and outraged both marijuana advocates and some members of Congress, including Sessions’ fellow Republicans. Many conservatives are wary of what they see as federal intrusion in areas they believe must be left to the states.
By Ronn Blitzer for Law Newz - Desiree Ali-Fairooz (also known as Desiree Fairooz) was convicted of misdemeanor charges in May after she laughed during Attorney General Jeff Sessions‘ confirmation hearing. The conviction was overturned by a D.C. judge in July, with a new trial scheduled for later in the year. Now, prosecutors declare that they will no longer be pursuing the case against Ali-Fairooz. On Monday, federal prosecutors filed a motion of nolle prosequi, which is a formal notice that they are abandoning the charges against Ali-Fairooz. This comes after the U.S. Attorney’s office offered her a plea deal, which she rejected in September, according to D.C. Superior Court records viewed by LawNewz.com. The trial was set to take place on November 13, but that will no longer be necessary, as the case was dismissed after the court received the prosecution’s motion. Jurors who initially convicted Ali-Fairooz didn’t necessarily like their decision, but felt they had to with the way the law was worded. One juror told HuffPost at the time, “There’s almost no way that you can find them not guilty.” The jury foreperson said that the conviction was for her behavior while being escorted out of the room, not for the laughing, but the prosecution had argued that laughter itself was enough. Judge Robert Morin took issue with that approach and vacated the conviction.
By Staff of The Guardian - The attorney general, Jeff Sessions, on Friday issued a sweeping directive that undercuts federal protections for LGBT people, telling agencies to do as much as possible to accommodate those who claim their religious freedoms are violated. In response, one LGBT rights advocate called the directive a “license to discriminate” and “an attack on the values of freedom and fairness that make this nation great”. Also on Friday, the Trump administration issued a new rule that substantially undermines women’s access to birth control under the Affordable Care Act. The Sessions directive, an attempt to deliver on Donald Trump’s pledge to evangelical supporters that he will protect religious liberties, effectively lifts a burden from religious objectors to prove their beliefs about marriage or other topics are sincerely held. A claim of a violation of religious freedom will now be enough to override many anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people, women and others. The guidelines are so sweeping that experts on religious liberty called them a legal powder keg that could prompt wide-ranging lawsuits against the government. “This is putting the world on notice: you better take these claims seriously,” Robin Fretwell Wilson, a law professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, told the Associated Press. “This is a signal to the rest of these agencies to rethink the protections they have put in place on sexual orientation and gender identity.”
By Ryan Grenoble for Huffington Post - Professors at the school have vociferously opposed the visit by Sessions. In an open letter published ahead of the event, signed by around a third of the law school’s faculty, professors lambasted it as “hypocritical” and “troubling.” “We, the undersigned, condemn the hypocrisy of Attorney General Sessions speaking about free speech,” the letter reads. “Sessions is a key cabinet member in an administration headed by a President who spent last weekend denouncing athletes engaging in free expression and calling for them to be fired.” “This kind of government chilling of speech is precisely what the First Amendment to the United States Constitution is meant to prevent,” the letter continues. “A man who fails to recognize paradigmatic violations of the First Amendment is a poor choice to speak about free speech on campuses.”
By Karen Sloan for Law - U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions received a frosty reception from some students and faculty at Georgetown University Law Center, where he delivered a talk on free speech Tuesday. In anticipation of his arrival, 30 faculty members on Monday released a letter stating that Sessions was an inappropriate speaker to tackle that subject because he and the Trump administration have repeatedly attacked First Amendment rights. About 130 students claimed on Monday that their tickets to Sessions’ talk were revoked. “It is extraordinarily hypocritical that AG Sessions wants to lecture future attorneys about the importance of free speech on campus while excluding the wider student body from his very own ‘safe space,’” said Daniel Blauser, president of the campus’ chapter of the American Constitution Society. On Tuesday, about 100 protestors gathered in front of the law school, some with duct tape on their mouths and carrying signs critical of Sessions, according to The Washington Post. Sessions’ speech comes as several college campuses have been rocked by free speech controversies. Violent protests or the fear of such have led to the cancellation several planned speeches by conservatives at the University of California, Berkeley. Sessions spoke for about a half hour, referencing recent free speech incidents at UC Berkeley, Virginia Tech, Brown University, and Middlebury College. “Freedom of thought and speech are under attack,” Sessions said. “It is transforming into an echo chamber of political correctness and homogeneous thought—a shelter for fragile egos.”
ByAndrea Germanos for Common Dreams. CODEPINK activist Desiree Fairooz, who was arrested after laughing during Attorney General Jeff Sessions' confirmation hearing, will face a second trial this fall after she rejected a plea deal on Friday. "I still cannot believe the government refuses to drop this. Vindictive!" she wrote on Twitter, while CODEPINK called it "ridiculous." She was convicted in May of disorderly and disruptive conduct during the hearing. While Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) argued that Sessions' record of "treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well-documented," Fairooz, who was in the hearing room, laughed. She held up a sign that read "Support Civil Rights; Stop Sessions" as she was placed under arrest and taken out of the room.
By Kevin Gosztola for Shadowproof. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, an aggressive supporter of anti-leaks policies, indicated the insider threat task force within the government would refine policies to promote tighter control over government information. Intelligence agencies would refer more cases to the Justice Department, and the Justice Department would investigate more leaks. “This nation must end this culture of leaks. We will investigate and seek to bring criminals to justice. We will not allow rogue anonymous sources with security clearances to sell out our country. These cases, to investigate and prosecute, are never easy. But cases will be made, and leakers will be held accountable.” Sessions proclaimed. Former CIA officer John Kiriakou, who was prosecuted for a leak and jailed by President Obama’s administration, reacted, “These are not national security leaks. These are leaks that are embarrassing to the president personally, but they have nothing to do with national security. It’s not intelligence-related if the president has an argument with the prime minister of Australia and then rudely terminates his phone call.” On one level, this may be viewed as a pledge to sharply escalate a crackdown on leaks. But there is also ample evidence to argue this merely continues a policy wholly embraced by the Obama administration.