On Marijuana, Jeff Sessions is Facing a Tougher Opponent Than Trump: Ex-New York Jets Star Marvin Washington

Jeff Sessions
Attorney General Jeff Sessions arrives to testify before the Senate intelligence committee on June 13. Win McNamee/Getty

Jeff Sessions is not having an easy ride at the moment.

The attorney general's boss, President Donald Trump, threw Sessions under the bus in a recent interview with the New York Times, saying that he would never have appointed him if he'd known that Sessions would recuse himself from the Russia investigation. Then again on Monday, Trump referred to Sessions as "beleaguered" and wondered why he wasn't investigating purported ties between Hillary Clinton and Russia.

But elsewhere, the attorney general is facing a tougher opponent: Former New York Jets defensive end Marvin Washington.

The former NFL star, who measures 1.98 meters and weighs 285 lbs, is one of five plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit against Sessions, the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Agency, the New York Post reported Monday.

The Manhattan lawsuit targets the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, which established federal drug policy and delineated narcotics into different schedules. Under the legislation, marijuana is considered a Schedule I controlled substance—along with other drugs such as heroin and ecstasy—and is subjected to the tightest restrictions. Schedule I substances are listed as those with a high potential for abuse and with no accepted medical use in the United States.

Read more: A young leukemia survivor skipped chemo and took medical marijuana instead

Other drugs, such as cocaine and morphine, are classified as Schedule II drugs, which have a high potential for abuse but are acceptable for medical use in some cases with restrictions.

"Classifying cannabis as a 'Schedule I drug' is so irrational that it violates the U.S. Constitution," the lawsuit said.

Washington has joined the lawsuit because the current legislation prevents him from obtaining federal grants to start a business aimed at professional football players who want to use medical marijuana to manage pain, the Post reported.

Other plaintiffs include an 11-year-old boy, Alexis Bortell, who requires medical marijuana to control his epilepsy, and a disabled military veteran, Jose Belen, who uses it to control post traumatic stress syndrome.

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People smoke marijuana on the informal cannabis holiday, 4/20, corresponding to the numerical figure widely recognized within the cannabis subculture as a symbol for all things marijuana, on the Common in Boston, Massachusetts, April 20. Brian Snyder/REUTERS

Several U.S. states have loosened laws prohibiting marijuana use in recent years, and the use of marijuana for medical purposes is now legal in 29 states and Washington DC. Under former president Barack Obama, the federal government did not seek to block state legislatures from legalizing or decriminalizing the drug.

Since coming to office, Sessions has taken a hard line on marijuana users. The attorney general asked congressional leaders to remove federal protections that stopped the DOJ from interfering with medical marijuana enterprises that operated in accordance with state law.

A new DOJ report to be published this week by the Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety—led by Sessions—is expected to link marijuana to violent crime and advocate tougher sentences on users, producers and sellers of the drug.

Washington, whose playing career ended in 1999, has been a vocal advocate for the use of medical marijuana in football. He has lobbied the NFL to promote medical marijuana as an effective means of pain relief.

Washington played eight seasons with the Jets, while also playing for the San Francisco 49ers and the Denver Broncos in a 11-year career. He won the Super Bowl XXXIII in 1999 with the Broncos.