Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin called out Republican U.S. Congressman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) for “offensive” comments he made comparing marijuana and slavery.
Woodfin appeared before the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties subcommittee of the House Oversight Committee on Tuesday to discuss the legalization of marijuana and issues surrounding pardoning those charged with possession crimes.
When asked by the subcommittee to explain the difference between a pardon and an expungement regarding marijuana-related crimes, Woodfin first took issue with committee member Sessions' statements.
Woodfin responded, "Words matter. While I'm on record, I would just like to say to you directly, your committee members, that putting cannabis and slavery in the same category is patently offensive and flagrant."
Earlier in the meeting, Sessions was detailing some of the negative health and societal effects of marijuana when he said, "The product is being marketed. The product is being sold. The product has been advocated by people who were in it to make money. Slavery made money also and was a terrible circumstance that this country and the world went through for many, many years."
Other members of the committee, including chairman Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland), agreed with Woodfin that the "peculiar analogy" between slavery and cannabis was out of line and should be "disavowed."
"I think we can all disavow that, and we apologize that the lectern was used for that purpose at some moment today," Raskin said.
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