Thursday on the U.S. Senate floor, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) reacted to reports that Attorney General Jeff Sessions would no longer honor an Obama-era agreement of non-interference with marijuana state laws.
Partial transcript as follows:
I rise because earlier this day, the president and Attorney General Sessions rescinded the Cole memo. It is issued under—it was issued under the Obama administration to have prosecutors shift the focus away from nonviolent marijuana crimes and toward more serious crimes that threaten our communities. This memo was a critical step in the right direction, undoing some of the catastrophic damage that has been caused by the failed war on drugs. It is a step forward for the federal government in mending our broken drug policies that have so hurt our nation in so many ways.
I believe it is a step forward that the vast majority of Americans who believe the war on drugs failed to agree with. It’s a step forward that improves America’s safety, saves money, and better lines are lost with our most fundamental values of fairness, equality, and justice. But yet today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has instructed the Department of Justice to not just double down on failed policy, but to turn back the clock and undermine the well-being of our country. The policy change actually goes against what Jeff Sessions promised elected officials in this body before his confirmation.
We heard already from the other Cory in the Senate, Republican Senator Cory Gardner, that he had a commitment from the Attorney General that before his confirmation that this is not what he would do. So this is an attack on our most sacred ideals and the very purpose of the Department of Justice, which is to protect Americans, to elevate ideals of justice, and to do right by people.
It is a failure of this administration who said, as our president did during his campaign, that he would honor what states are doing. It’s a betrayal of our Attorney General who gave a commitment to at least one Republican member of this body. But most significantly, it is hurting—it will hurt America. It ignores the fact that there is a growing bipartisan consensus that the war on drugs has failed. It sacrificed our critical, urgently needed resources in our communities, violating our values, destroying families, and it’s failed to make us safer.