Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent pot stocks tumbling earlier this week when, just days after California started selling marijuana legally, he rescinded an Obama-era order that helped states circumvent federal drug laws and experiment with legalization and taxation.
His decision has angered politicians on both sides of the aisle, perhaps nobody more than former Texas Congressman Ron Paul, who has long advocated for the legalization of all drugs in keeping with his libertarian views.
In an interview with CNN, Paul said President Trump should fire Sessions over the AG’s decision to empower local federal prosecutors to decide whether they want to enforce federal marijuana laws, possibly throwing a wrench in the works for states like Massachusetts, Colorado and Nevada, where marijuana sales are essentially legal and subject to taxes.
“The war on drugs to me is a war on liberty I concentrate on the issue of freedom of choice when doing things that are high risk. We permit high risk all the time. Generally we allow people to eat what they want. We do overly concentrate on what people put in their bodies,” Paul said.
Recreational marijuana is legal in eight states and the District of Columbia. Twenty-two states also allow some form of medical marijuana, and 15 allow a lesser medical marijuana extract.
Paul said freedom is integral to the American identity, and that Sessions actions are “unamerican.”
“He represents something that is so un-American, as far as I’m concerned,” Paul said. Paul also described the war on drugs as “a totally illegal system” that functions as “a war on liberty.”
“The war on drugs, to me, is a war on liberty. I think that we overly concentrate on the issue of the drug itself, and I concentrate on the issue of freedom of choice, on doing things that are of high risk,” he said. “And we permit high risk all the time. … Generally, we allow people to eat what they want, and that is very risky. But we do overly concentrate on what people put into their bodies.”
“Just because you legalize something doesn’t mean everyone’s going to do it, and then if you look at the consequences, of the war? Why don’t the people just look and read and study Prohibition? …total failure. And the war on drugs is every bit as bad and worse,” he said.
“People should have the right or responsibility of dealing with what is dangerous,” Paul insisted. “Once you get into this thing about government is going to protect us against ourselves, there’s no protection of liberty.”
However, Paul said he didn’t expect Sessions to be successful.
“I predict that Sessions is not going to be victorious on this,” Paul told his interviewer.
“And unfortunately, it’s for reasons that I don’t get excited about. It’s because the states want to collect all of those taxes (on marijuana), so it becomes this tax issue,” he said.
Sessions has long been critical of liberalizing drug laws, famously claiming that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.” But the attorney general has also come under pressure lately from conservative, Trump-allied lawmakers who feel he’s allowed Special Counsel Robert Mueller to run amok.