Attorney General Session’s Drug Enforcement Policies Are Disasterous

Then-Sen. Jeff Sessions testifies on Jan. 10 at the confirmation hearing on his nomination as attorney general.


The New Times in an Opinion piece noted that “this spring Mr. Sessions instructed federal prosecutors to seek the highest possible sentences in drug cases, and the administration’s proposed budget increased spending on the Drug Enforcement Administration by $150 million while cutting funds for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration by $109 million. Mr. Sessions has also signaled his intent to step up enforcement of laws targeting marijuana. All these are in contrast to recent policy shifts reflecting the growing consensus that the aggressive policing of the war on drugs has failed.”


A plurality of Americans feels that drug sentences have been too harsh, particularly in non-violent scenarios. Since former President Nixon declared war on drugs, the cost to police the drug business skyrocketed: The two Bush Presidents continued the expensive war on drugs. Bill Clinton, did little to curb the costly and ineffective policies that mandated draconian sentences: These Presidents (The guidelines were implemented after Nixon’s terms) supported Federal Sentencing Guidelines that called for mandatory sentences—often resulting in sentences of 10 to 15 years for first-time offenders.

The quandary is, these drug enforcement laws have never worked—drug use and sales have continued at substantially the same rate throughout the terms of these Presidents. President Obama set forth executive orders that started to de-escalate the drug problem and addressed the costly mandatory sentencing problem. Now, however, Sessions has implemented policies that will reverse the progress that Obama obtained.

What is even more disturbing is that Session’s policies take money away from substance abuse and mental health facilities and give it to the Drug Enforcement Agency. If the past 40 years have been instructive on the country’s drug issues, Session’s new policies are a disaster. Obama was on the right path.

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