Math and the Attorney General
Even Sessions doesn't know what his plan is
I heard a saying once when I was young, and it so impressed me that I've carried it around my whole life: “When the room says you're drunk, lie down.”
I know I've often taken up plenty of space here to point out my general distaste for our nation's glassy-eyed Attorney General Jeff Sessions, but what I've never told you is that I'd guess he's generally a good guy in the awkward position of discovering that everything he believes is wrong. Like most people in this position, he'd rather tell himself that the rest of the world is crazy than look in the mirror and admit he's wrong.
It's understandable, and in almost any other case, I'd find it hard not to sympathize. But we're talking about the attorney general—someone who literally holds the freedom of millions under his sway. Frankly, I find it hard to feel too much compassion for the man when his personal struggle with reality threatens the freedom of so many of my compatriots. Especially now that the room is finally telling Sessions to lie down.
Yes. A Gallup poll released last week found that 64 percent of Americans are in favor of legalizing cannabis. It's by far the warmest the country has ever been towards the subject. Compare that number to the underwhelming 12 percent who were in favor of it in 1969, the first time Gallup asked the question.
To some, the most shocking results of the poll will be the Republican response. For the first time ever, the majority of GOP voters answered in favor of cannabis legalization. It's a slim majority—only 51 percent—but it's a marked increase of 9 percentage points since last year.
These numbers must be disconcerting to Sessions, but I wonder if he even realizes his culpability. As I've said before, I suspect one of the most powerful propellants of cannabis acceptance has been the apparent anti-cannabis stance of the Trump Administration—and the Department of Justice by association—coupled with the overwhelming number of people looking to take on any contrarian position against an unpopular populist president. Basically, cannabis is in the right place at the right time.
And maybe we're seeing Sessions crack a little when he says things like, “I think it would be healthy to have some more competition in the supply [of medical cannabis],” to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing earlier this month. But it would be prudent of us to remember that he immediately followed this up by implying that he would continue to block progress on cannabis research by delaying applications for research facilities who want to grow cannabis under a new Drug Enforcement Agency policy that was announced last summer.
Remember that? It was one of those nearly unbelievable news stories last year that entered our purview for about a week and then danced off, forgotten. A refresher: The DEA announced over a year ago that it would be relaxing its stranglehold on cannabis research. Up until that point, the only institution federally sanctioned to grow cannabis for research was the University of Mississippi (and they're samples were weak and poorly maintained by many accounts). The new policy would increase the number of facilities allowed to grow the federally illegal plant, and interested cultivators were encouraged to apply.
So far, though, there hasn't been a single application approved since the announcement, and the 26 applications that were turned in are still being processed according to the DEA. At the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Sessions was asked about the progress of these applications and he waffled. “I’m sure we don’t need 26 new suppliers,” he said. He was also concerned about paying for DEA oversight of the operations. But he did seem to be mostly acquiescent about the whole thing—like a stray at the pound, lying at the bottom of a cage with its belly exposed.
It seemed like such a victory, until I heard Sessions in an interview with conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt last week. Ol' Hewitt suggested to Sessions that dropping a RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) case on “one producer and the banks that service them would shut this all down.”
Sessions seemed to disagree about the effectiveness of one case, but said that “the federal laws clearly are in effect in all 50 states. And we will do our best to enforce the laws as we’re required to do so.” His response to whether there is a current attempt to prosecute any producers or dispensaries: “I can’t comment on the existence of an investigation at this time.”
Not exactly promising, but not terribly frightening either. I'll reserve my fears for the time being and focus more on honing my cooking skills. Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and I really need to work on my creamed spinach game.
Lie down, Jeff, lie down. We got it from here.