Adam Eidinger Calls on Cannabis Community to #SmokeSessions
Adam Eidinger, of the Washington, D.C.-based cannabis advocacy group DCMJ, is calling on cannabis supporters of the free world to “smoke Sessions”—U.S. senator from Alabama, Jeff Sessions, that is. President-elect Donald Trump has nominated Sessions for the role of U.S. attorney general in his incoming administration. On Tuesday and Wednesday, January 10-11, 2017, DCMJ plans to send volunteer activists to sit in on Sessions’ confirmation hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee. They are asking volunteers to show up early and line up outside the hearing in order to get a coveted seat inside.
DCMJ has organized similar actions since Sessions was announced as Trump’s pick for attorney general. On November 28, 2016, members of the activist group met with Sessions’ staffers at his Senate office after threatening a ‘smoke-in’ protest. “We are terrified of your boss’s comments recently in the Senate,” Eidinger said to the staffers. “They make it sound like we’re bad Americans.” The group presented Sessions’ representatives with a red T-shirt reading, “Great Americans evolve on issues like cannabis.” The activists were surprised at having secured the meeting but were ambivalent about the success they’d had: “I got the impression they were going to pass it on to [Sessions],” said Sondra Battle. “I’m not extremely hopeful, but we’re going to keep on it.”
On December 8th, 2016, members of DCMJ returned to Sessions’ Senate office to sneak samples of cannabis past building security and present it to the senator’s staff. On January 3, 2017, DCMJ gathered outside Union Station in Washington to greet U.S. senators and congress-people and their staff on the first day of the 115th Congress. And on January 20th—the inauguration of President Donald Trump—the group plans to gather activists on the National Mall to hand out 4,200 cannabis joints and hold a mass smoke-in four minutes and 20 seconds into Trump’s speech.
DCMJ—and the broader cannabis legalization community—are concerned by Trump’s nominee for attorney general. Senator Sessions said in April 2016, “good people don’t smoke marijuana” and once said he thought the Ku Klux Klan “were OK until I found out they smoked pot.” Legalization advocates worry that an Attorney General Sessions could reverse years of progress on cannabis legalization at the state level. Currently, 28 states and the District of Columbia have some form of legal cannabis, though the plant is still illegal at the federal level under the Controlled Substances Act.
Legal cannabis markets in states like Colorado and Washington were given some assurance in the Obama era by his administration’s Cole memo. The Cole memo—named for Deputy Attorney General James Cole—was published in August 2013 in response to the then-recent success of cannabis legalization in Colorado and Washington. The memo read: “In jurisdictions that have enacted laws legalizing marijuana in some form…conduct in compliance with those laws and regulations is less likely to threaten the federal priorities…”
It was designed as a temporary solution by which the federal government would not interfere in legal cannabis markets in those states, provided they met certain criteria. But the Cole memo is simply an Obama administration policy, not a federal law—which is why legalization advocates worry what action a new administration and attorney general may take in state cannabis markets.
DCMJ addresses these concerns in their four demands to Sessions and Donald Trump:
“We demand the President-elect Trump make a clear and unequivocal statement that he supports the full legalization of cannabis in every State. And to urge the 115th Congress to pass legislation that removes cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act within the first 100 days.
Second, we demand Senator Sessions evolve on his position that cannabis users are not only good people, but they deserve the same treatment under the law as alcohol users, prescription drug users, and non-users.
Third, we demand Senator Sessions allow the various states and the District of Columbia the authority to make their own laws concerning cannabis without federal government intervention.
Fourth, we demand Senator Sessions investigate the racial disparities of federal minimum sentencing guidelines and the associated costs to the American taxpayers for maintaining the largest prison system in the world.”