Today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigned at President Trump’s request after less than two years in office. Sessions pursued an aggressive agenda to escalate the war on drugs by ramping up sentencing for drug offenses, restarting destructive asset forfeiture practices, and threatening crackdowns on marijuana legalization and supervised consumption services. Sessions also undermined the work of the Department’s Civil Rights Division, opposing steps to hold police accountable for abuses, including killings of Black people. Trump appointed Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general and will now select a new AG, who must be approved by the Senate.
“While Trump’s dismissal of Sessions raises questions about the president’s motivations, the Justice Department and Senate should seize this opportunity to right Sessions’ wrongs,” said Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “The U.S. public understands that the drug war has failed spectacularly and needs to be replaced with a health-centered approach. It is critically important that the next Attorney General be committed to defending basic rights and moving away from failed drug war policies.”
Many Senators, including key Republicans, rejected Jeff Sessions’ retrograde approach to marijuana and sentencing, and have been critical of his approach to civil asset forfeiture. Despite Sessions’ opposition, bipartisan support for drug policy reform has continued to grow, with Trump adviser Jared Kushner pushing for some criminal justice reform, and Trump backing legislation to end marijuana prohibition.