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The Trump administration is preparing to move forward on yet another front in its War On Reality-Based Policy. Next week, Trump's "Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety," headed up by Attorney General For Now Jeff Sessions, will be releasing a report that's expected to draw connections between marijuana and violent crime, and is likely to call for harsher sentences to stamp out the noxious weed once and for all, or at least fill up those private prisons.

Sessions sent out a memo in April to U.S. Attorneys (or at least the acting ones) and DOJ subdivisions asking for recommendations for how the threat of the Devil Weed can best be crushed, asking for suggestions by July 27:

Task Force subcommittees will also undertake a review of existing policies in the areas of charging, sentencing, and marijuana to ensure consistency with the Department's overall strategy on reducing violent crime and with Administration goals and priorities[.]

Inimai Chettiar, the director of the Justice Program at the nonpartisan Brennan Center, suggests the task force may be pursuing policy based on wishful thinking instead of evidence:

The task force revolves around reducing violent crime and Sessions and other DOJ officials have been out there over the last month and explicitly the last couple of weeks talking about how immigration and marijuana increases violent crime [...]

We’re worried there’s going to be something in the recommendations that is either saying that that’s true or recommending action be taken based on that being true.

Get with the program, Brennan Center! Policy should be based on the facts or fact-alternatives the administration believes, which makes them factual.

The task force's actions are a follow-up to other anti-weed actions Sessions has taken, including asking Congress in May to undo an amendment that prohibits the DOJ from using federal funds against states that have passed their own laws allowing “the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

The DOJ's probable new focus on pot isn't necessarily finding fans among local-level law enforcement, at least from some corners:

“From a practitioner’s point of view, marijuana is not a drug that doesn’t have some danger to it, but it’s not the drug that’s driving violent crime in America,” said Ronal Serpas, the former superintendent of the New Orleans Police Department and co-chairman of Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration.

“That’s not the drug with which we see so much death and destruction on the streets of America. Crack and powdered cocaine, heroin and opioids is where we’re seeing people die on street corners fighting over territory or control.”

On the other hand, it's definitely easier to find, arrest, and seize the car of some miscreant with a baggie of weed in their pocket, so mileage may vary depending on ideology and local commitments to meaningless gestures that seem tough.

Also, Congress may push back, through one of those lucky alliances of libertarian states-rights folks and damn hippie liberals who want people to have their ganja. Senator Rand Paul says the DOJ's federal-tyranny aggression will not stand, man:

“I will oppose anybody from the administration or otherwise that wants to interfere with state policy,” he told The Hill this week.

Paul is part of a bipartisan group of Senators pushing legislation to allow patients to continue accessing medical marijuana in states where it is legal without fear of federal prosecution.

The group's bill even has a nifty acronym, which is a key part of getting anything passed: It's the "Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act," and would change federal law to make clear that states are allowed to make their own policy on medical marijuana without federal interference. Sure, adding "and recreational" would be nice, but you go with what you can get. And look at the range of lefties and states' righties in the list of sponsors: Republicans Lisa Murkowski, Mike Lee -- Mike Goddamned Lee! -- and Rand Paul, and Democrats Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, and Al Franken. If the bill passes, they'll all join up for a Benneton ad from the '90s.

It's not clear yet how Sessions's troubles with Donald Trump might affect the future direction of criminal policy regarding marijuana. Back in February, when the White House signaled it would start enforcing federal laws against pot in states that had legalized or decriminalized medical or recreational use, Politifact noted that during the campaign, Trump had actually staked out a states-rights position in several interviews during the campaign, including one where he said "I think it’s up to the states, yeah. I’m a states person. I think it should be up to the states, absolutely."

After taking office, though, Trump appears to have happily left drug enforcement policy up to Sessions, so once again, relying on anything Trump said a year or five minutes ago is probably not worth much. While Trump is busy trying to needle Sessions into resigning, maybe the Great Man will decide thwarting Sessions's efforts on marijuana might really piss Sessions off. Or he may not even remember what Sessions is up to. And if Sessions is pushed out, there's no reason to think Trump will claim he's a states guy again. It's far more likely that federal priorities on marijuana would be exactly in line with whatever the new A.G. thinks, so Sessions's plan to take action against all the violent criminals buying legal pot might continue, or it might go up in smoke, ha ha ha.

Now, if we could only convince Trump that Robert Mueller is in favor of cracking down on states that legalized pot...

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[The Hill / Politifact]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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