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Attorney General nominee shows surprising support for marijuana legalization

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If you've felt like nothing has surprised you after a week of Donald Trump's presidency, here's a curve ball out of alt-right field. In the weeks leading up to Trump's inauguration, historic anti-pot crusader and Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions, implied that he might not be as tough on pot as we all expected.

For those unfamiliar with Sessions, he's the Alabama senator who once supported a bill for mandatory death sentences for repeat drug-trafficking offenders. He's been known to throw around comments like "good people don't smoke marijuana" and "I used to like the KKK 'til I found out they smoke pot."

After assuring everyone that he does indeed "abhor the Klan," Session made numerous comments about the federal enforcement of laws banning marijuana during his confirmation hearing.

In stark contrast to some other recent hearings, Sessions demonstrated extensive knowledge of the duties, responsibilities and controversies surrounding the office he is soon to take.

The biggest takeaway from the hearing is that Sessions isn't taking a hard stance against marijuana.

"I know it won't be an easy decision, but I will try to do my duty in a fair and just way," he said during the hearing. "It is not the Attorney General's job to decide what laws to enforce."

Sessions even suggested that Congress legalize marijuana if that's what people want.

The United States Congress has made the possession of marijuana in every state, and distribution of it, an illegal act," he said. "If that's something not desired any longer, Congress should pass a law to change the rule."

Sessions' comments even took the Marijuana Policy Project by surprise as they released a statement taking a "cautiously optimistic" stance on Sessions' appointment.

"He was given the opportunity to take an extreme prohibitionist approach and he passed on it," the press release said.

White House megaphone Sean Spicer told Fox News that Sessions was only adopting Trump's agenda, which should be a smooth transition as the anti-pot crowd has long purported their own list of "alternative facts."

At least some of Sessions' concern seems to come from the economic boom marijuana has brought to the United States. Americans bought $6.7 billion worth of marijuana in 2016, according to an ArcView Group report earlier this month.

An Arizona Department of Health Services report shows that Arizonans account for about $330 million of that in the form of a little more than 29 tons of marijuana, and can boast either the fourth or fifth largest medical marijuana program in the country.

The number or cardholders has nearly quadrupled since the program's first year in 2012, increasing from 29,804 to 114,439 today. The report also shows chronic pain to account for 81.66 percent of patients' reasons for using medical marijuana.

It seems Sessions is becoming more and more aware of not only the cost in resources it'd take to enforce a federal ban on marijuana, but the business that'd be lost by emptying the emerging market.

For now, we'll stick with the MPP's cautious optimism.

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