- The Washington Times - Friday, November 25, 2016

Marijuana advocates in Washington, D.C., plan to spend Monday afternoon on Capitol Hill conducting the first of five scheduled protests organized in response to President-elect Donald Trump’s appointment of Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican, as the nation’s next attorney general.

Activists this week said they’ll hold the first of several “Smoke Sessions” at noon Monday at the senator’s office inside the Russell Building on Capitol Hill in the wake of Mr. Trump naming the notoriously anti-weed lawmaker to head the Department of Justice.

The demonstrations are being organized by DCMJ, a local marijuana advocacy group that says it’s particularly concerned given past remarks made by Mr. Sessions with regards to legalizing cannabis. During a congressional hearing in April, Mr. Sessions suggested one of President Obama’s “greatest failures” was allowing several states to legalize recreational and medicinal marijuana during the course of his administration.

“Good people don’t smoke marijuana,” Mr. Sessions said during the hearing. “We need grownups in charge in Washington saying marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought to be minimized, that it is in fact a very real danger.”

Adam Eidinger, a D.C. businessman and activist whose spearheading the protest, indicated he hopes the Smoke Sessions will uncover exactly what the senator plans on doing for state and federal pot laws once Mr. Trump enters office in January and he takes the helm of the Justice Department.

“We’re saying, we don’t want this guy, and if he is going to be the guy he’s got to clarify his positions,” Mr. Eidinger told the DCist website. “But really, we don’t want him. This is just an unacceptable pick.

“Is this guy gonna roll back the clock?” Mr. Eidinger asked. “Is he going to march the DEA into Washington, D.C., and raid a thousand homes for growing marijuana?”

Federally speaking, marijuana is considered a Schedule 1 narcotic on par with heroin and ecstasy. In recent years, however, state laws allowing for people to use the plant for either recreational or medicinal purposes have been passed in more than half the country, including Washington, D.C.

On the Smoke Sessions website, organizers say they’re demanding that the senator “allow the various States and the District of Columbia the authority to make their own laws concerning cannabis without Federal government intervention.”

“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,” the group wrote. “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.”

Additionally, the activists are calling on Mr. Sessions to investigate as attorney general “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.”

After Monday, the group plans on holding similar Smoke Sessions across D.C., including at a Republican National Committee holding party and during Mr. Trump’s inauguration.

On his part, Mr. Trump said prior to being elected that he believed marijuana legalization should be determined state by state.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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