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

November 30, 2016
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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  • malcolmkyle

    “The more obvious the failure becomes, the more shamelessly they [the prohibitionists] exhibit their genuine motives. In plain words, what moves them is the psychological aberration called sadism. They lust to inflict inconvenience, discomfort, and whenever possible, disgrace upon the persons they hate — which is to say, upon everyone who is free from their barbarous theological superstitions, and is having a better time in the world than they are.”

    “They cannot stop the use of alcohol, nor even appreciably diminish it, but they can badger and annoy everyone who seeks to use it decently, and they can fill the jails with men taken for purely artificial offences, and they can get satisfaction thereby for the Puritan yearning to browbeat and injure, to torture and terrorize, to punish and humiliate all who show any sign of being happy. And all this they can do with a safe line of policemen and judges in front of them; always they can do it without personal risk.”

    —an extract from “Notes on Democracy” by Henry Louis Mencken, written in 1926, during alcohol prohibition, 1919-1933

  • Pozessed

    Is prohibition constitutional? Which amendment grants the government the ability to prohibit what the public ingests?

    • Bryan Vance

      IDK, whichever one allows it to regulate food, medicine, agriculture, etc. That’s not quite prohibition, sure, but they probably all stem from the same federal law.

      • Pozessed

        Though I do agree, that still does not answer the question of which amendment permits our federal government to regulate what we ingest.

        • Bryan Vance

          Totally. Now I’m curious myself.

          • Pozessed

            After a little digging. The constitution does not mention regulation of food or drugs in any way. The 10th amendment and the lack of mention in the constitution about regulating food and drugs would make the FDA an illegal entity. Am I wrong?

          • Bryan Vance

            Technically, yes. The Constitution isn’t the only law of the land. It gives representatives in the executive branch the power to draft and enact new laws. Which I’m sure they did at some point to address the very legality of food and drug regulations.

          • Pozessed

            Riddle me this. Why did we need a constitutional amendment to prohibit alcohol but not any other substance?
            The constitution is supposed to be amended not interpreted to however the reader feels best. And it is supposed to be the limit of our federal governments power.

          • Pozessed

            After more digging I found that it is the 16th amendment which allows the government to exercise prohibitions via the interstate commerce clause.
            However, I find it apprehensive that the federal government is to use an amendment which provisions them the ability to levy taxes as a way to prohibit literally anything the government deems worthy of prohibition.
            Weren’t we supposed to avoid a totalitarian government?

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nMJSitr7S8
            This seems like a decent video that relays the facts regarding the origin of the interstate commission clause and how unbridled our governments power is without a proper amendment..

          • neroden

            Yep, it’s an abusive interpretation of the interstate commerce clause.

            Odds are that this abusive and essentially bogus misinterpretation of the commerce clause will be overthrown eventually.

            Really the federal government has zero jurisdiction or power over growing or eating plants when NOT involved in interstate commerce. But we have some corrupt judicial rulings claiming that growing plants in your own home is “interstate commerce” — they’re absurd on their face, but there you go. Corrupt country, this.

  • Aloha and thank you, Adam.

    We like to say that government has no – rightful – jurisdiction to prohibit Cannabis or any other plant bearing seeds from “We the people”. Drugs, yes. Plants, no. They are two vastly different things. “You can make a drug from a plant, but you can’t make a plant from a drug.”

    My wife Share and I have our toe in the door of the U.S. Supreme Court right now with the appeal of our religious use of Cannabis case. Our petition for a writ of certiorari is due to be filed by Dec. 21st. We hope to overturn our convictions and make a solid legal precedent.

    Share and I were ruled by U.S. District Court Judge Leslie Kobayashi to be sincere and 100% legitimate, but convicted by her anyway because she said that 1.) marijuana is still a Schedule 1 most dangerous substance under federal law, and 2.) she said there was the risk that someone with a fake ID could have come into the THC Ministry, obtained sacrament and used it for a non-religious purpose.

    Thanks to each and every pro-Cannabis activist who helped to lead us to this promising moment in time. Now let’s finish the job.

    http://www.thc-ministry.org
    http://www.the-last-marijuana-trial.com

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4a6a6dadaf2815fadf679208dbc7b576dd7b049a81cd73a341f48475f7031297.jpg

    • neroden

      I presume you have marshalled the evidence that the Schedule I placement of cannabis is entirely illegitimate and without rational basis; it’s gotten overwhelming by now, and the DEA’s constant postponments of the rescheduling petitions shows that they know that if they actually hear the petition they’d have to reschedule it.

      • IrishForEver

        And they’re terrified of losing their jobs. Keebler- elf-who-fell-out-of- a-tree Sessions will go right along with them. Medical marijuana is what has given my Down’s Syndrome teenage niece another chance at a life – her seizures were crippling and damaging her brain even more. I don’t know what will happen if they take it away from her.

  • Louis Marschalko

    The real issue is that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives maintains their rigid stance that LEGAL mj users are barred from acquiring firearms.

    • Rip Van Whalen

      W.T.F. do guns have to do with it? If this is the real issue I think I missed something…..Guns don’t kill people, People stoned on weed are the real problem! lol…..Ready? Aim!…..BONG HIT!

  • benjamin stanklin

    Foolish move and not a good way to start a conversation. Guys like Sessions arent influenced by groups of chanters and t-shirted sloganeers. They rather look down upon these sorts of encounters as just reinforcing their point that the movement consists of clowns just wanting attention and their faces on the news. Shoving joints in people’s faces also – what is the point? Things like these are counter-productive and right now Sessions already has a reason to backhand any consideration for having a reasonable conversation. But, regardless, the vaunted ‘leader’ of the DCMJ is ‘terrified’ and in ‘fight or flee’ mode anyway so ‘reasonable’ is kind of out of the question. No wonder so little progress has been made if people like this guy are in leadership positions within the MJ organizations.

    • Dennis5150

      Well put.

  • 1776

    I voted for Trump. I support MEDICAL Marijuana use. I truly believe, everything will work out for the better of both sides.