President Trump’s Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety, led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is expected to release a report this week that criminal justice reform advocates fear will link marijuana to violent crime in preparation for tougher federal sentences on marijuana growers, sellers, and users, even in states where it is legal, reports The Hill.
“The task force revolves around reducing violent crime, and Sessions and other DOJ officials have been out there over the last month — and explicitly the last couple of weeks — talking about how immigration and marijuana increases violent crime,” said Inimai Chettiar, Brennan Center’s Justice Program director.
“We’re worried there’s going to be something in the recommendations that is either saying that that’s true or recommending action be taken based on that being true.”
In April, Sessions had sent a memo asking the Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety to issue a review no later than July 27.
“Task Force subcommittees will also undertake a review of existing policies in the areas of charging, sentencing, and marijuana to ensure consistency with the Department’s overall strategy on reducing violent crime and with administration goals and priorities,” Sessions’ memo read.
“From a practitioner’s point of view, marijuana is not a drug that doesn’t have some danger to it, but it’s not the drug that’s driving violent crime in America,” said Ronal Serpas, former New Orleans Police Department superintendent.
“That’s not the drug with which we see so much death and destruction on the streets of America. Crack and powdered cocaine, heroin, and opioids is where we’re seeing people die on street corners fighting over territory or control.”
Marijuana is still illegal under federal law, but eight states and Washington, D.C., have legalized recreational use, while 21 states permit medical uses, according to the Marijuana Policy Project.
“If you try to start prosecuting marijuana . . . you create more violence and more danger as well as greater government cost,” Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., told The Hill. “These policies that he’s doing ultimately go to the core of the safety of our communities.”
President Trump had promised to not touch state’s rights on marijuana while on the campaign trail.