Oklahoma has just told Attorney Jeff Sessions, in a symbolic sense, that he can put his attack on marijuana in his pipe and smoke it.
The governor of the reliably red state, where Republicans and conservatives have firm control of the wheels of government, chose today to announce a vote to legalize the use of medical marijuana – only hours after Attorney General Sessions’ announcement that he would be rolling back the government’s tolerance for legal marijuana.
Republican Governor Mary Fallin said in a statement that the vote on the medical marijuana referendum will take place on June 26 as part of a primary election.
— Rep Jason Dunnington (@jdunnington) January 4, 2018
The vote is the result of a petition filed in 2016 allowing for a vote.
“Backers of this proposal to legalize medical marijuana followed procedures and gathered more than 66,000 required signatures to submit the issue to a vote of the people,” said Fallin. “I am fulfilling my duty as governor to decide when that election will occur this year.”
Sessions surprise announcement was made despite promises by President Trump during the 2016 campaign that he would not interfere with pot in states where it is now legal, has brought about angry reactions from both Republicans and Democrats.
Trump promised to let states set marijuana policies. Now he's breaking that promise so Jeff Sessions can pursue his extremist anti-marijuana crusade. https://t.co/EhxfVdC3so
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) January 4, 2018
While Republicans have long preached about states rights, Sessions acted without consulting any of the states where marijuana is now legal for medical or recreational purposes.
If approved, residents of Oklahoma over the age of 18 would be able to get a license to buy and possess small amounts of marijuana and grow a small number of plants themselves.
A number of states now allow marijuana for medical purposes and a growing number of states have made it legal for recreational use as well, including Colorado and Washington.
Make no mistake: As we have told the Department of Justice ever since I-502 was passed in 2012, we will vigorously defend our state’s laws against undue federal infringement. https://t.co/R3jJrncN9X pic.twitter.com/uM48hVH26q
— Governor Jay Inslee (@GovInslee) January 4, 2018
It has been legal in California for medical purposes for several years and on January 1, also became available legally for recreational purposes.
The next state expected to vote to legalize the drug is Vermont, where the state legislature is expected to vote soon. Today, lawmakers in Vermont said they would not delay their vote despite Sessions announcement.
No, Attorney General Sessions. Marijuana is not the same as heroin. No one who has seriously studied the issue believes that. Quite the contrary. We should allow states the right to move toward the decriminalization of marijuana, not reverse the progress that has been made.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) January 4, 2018
Sessions continue to take ultra-conservative, regressive positions like this one, many of which appear to be aimed at minorities who will feel the brunt of these regressive laws. It will lead to the arrest of minorities but have no real impact on the wealthy, so it will burden the poor with costs and put many in jail if Sessions has his way.
Having a Republican-dominated state like Oklahoma move toward a vote for legalization should send a message to Trump and Sessions but they are so politically tone deaf that it is probably not going to have an impact until both are eventually forced out of office.