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DC Advocates Take Their Case to Jeff Sessions—and He Listens. Sort of.

November 30, 2016
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Attorney General nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., smiles while greeting the press with Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016 in Washington. (AP Photo/Molly Riley)
DCMJ, the Washington, DC, advocacy group that led the effort to legalize cannabis in the District, is at it again.

Adam Eidinger, leader of DCMJ, took a group of 17 volunteers to the Capitol Hill office of Sen. Jeff Sessions, President-elect Trump’s nominee for attorney general. There the group met with two Sessions staffers, including communications director Chris Jackson.

Leafly caught up with Adam Eidinger earlier this morning to get his take on the meeting.

“They were aware that we were coming,” Eidinger said, “but they thought we were coming to smoke marijuana in their office. I’m sure they thought they would look perfectly reasonable, but because we didn’t smoke, that somehow made it less newsworthy.”

“As the staff members said themselves, they do not make decisions for Sen. Sessions and I don’t know if marijuana activism will soften his stance.”
Steven Nelson, US News & World Report

The group showed up in red T-shirts that bore various slogans based on Sessions’ most famous anti-cannabis quote, “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.” The shirts, emblazoned with bold white letters on a bright red background (in the “Make America Great Again” style), were printed with the words “Great Americans Use Cannabis,” and “Great Americans do not belong in jail for a plant.” Some were more specifically geared towards the groups they represented: “Great Americans know the value of medical cannabis,” and “Great Americans, like veterans, use cannabis.”

“The staff was polite, but they were adamant that no media be allowed in the room,” Eidinger said.

One journalist, Steven Nelson, with US News & World Report, quietly followed the group into the meeting. He remained in the room until the staffers realized who he was and asked him to leave.

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Nelson told Leafly he was generally optimistic about the meeting. “It’s hard to say a negative thing about the two Sessions staff members,” he said. “They were respectful, welcoming, and sought to show DCMJ members that they cared about their personal stories and political perspectives.”

As with any political meeting, however, that optimism is tempered by a dose of reality. “As the staff members said themselves, they do not make decisions for Sen. Sessions and I don’t know if marijuana activism will soften his stance,” Nelson said. “Sessions’ comments show consistency and a strong anti-legalization zeal, which is why some groups like DPA [the Drug Policy Alliance] outright oppose his nomination.”

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The day after the event, Eidinger expressed disappointment with national marijuana advocacy groups that have expressed dismay with the appointment of Sessions but haven’t yet taken direct action.

“We need to speak up,” Eidinger said. “We are all terrified, and we need to go on the offensive, in fight or flee mode. I just visited Las Vegas for the MJ Biz conference, and it was all businesses and no activists.” He urged those in the industry to speak out, but said he didn’t expect a lot of response.

“They’re just interested in making money, no one is putting their necks out there. These businesses are all disconnected and not taking action. This is not a time to be sitting on the sidelines. One year from now this could all come crashing down.”

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Eidinger said DCMJ has further actions in store in the coming weeks and months.

“We haven’t announced it yet, but we’re planning to lawfully distribute 1,000 joints on Inauguration Day. It will all be legal; no person will have more than two ounces of joints to distribute, and we’ll have a list where volunteers can sign up. And we’ll only pass them out to those who are over 21.”

“This might be the last chance we have,” he said. “But we’re gearing up and we’re mobilized and we’re not backing down.”

Lisa Rough's Bio Image

Lisa Rough

Lisa is a former associate editor at Leafly, where she specialized in legislative cannabis policy and industry topics.

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