jeff sessions
Senator Jeff Sessionswaits for U.S. President-elect Donald Trump to exit his plane after arriving for stop on his USA Thank You Tour event in Mobile, Alabama, on Dec. 17, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

The Senate Judiciary Committee began confirmation hearings Tuesday for President-Elect Donald Trump’s Attorney General pick, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. Sessions’ appointment has stirred up controversy among a slew of groups, including advocates pushing for marijuana reform, who staged a sit-in protest Tuesday during Sessions' hearing.

DCMJ members were outside the Russell Senate Office building, where the committee hearings were being held, at 4:20 a.m. Activists sat quietly during Sessions’ hearing with signs and posters advocating for legal marijuana use with the slogan, "Smoke Sessions," according to the group’s Facebook page. The DCMJ, a group that helped pushed legal recreational marijuana legislation in Washington, D.C., hopes their quiet protest will convince Senate Judiciary members to question Sessions on his intentions regarding the many marijuana programs that have become legal in 28 states and the District of Columbia in recent years.

Sessions has been a notorious opponent of marijuana, making negative statements about the plant and people who use it dating back to the 1980s. Sessions comments on cannabis, particularly his claims that “good people don’t smoke marijuana” and cannabis is “not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized,” has led to some concern amongst marijuana advocates who are worried he will join forces with the federal government to ban legal medical use and recreational use by adults and shut down dispensaries despite the state laws that have been instituted across the U.S.

Only adding to concern is the fact that Sessions appears to have a completely different stance on legalizing marijuana compared to Trump, who said during his campaign that he would continue to keep marijuana laws at the state level.

“Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump have publicly stated opposite opinions on legalized marijuana and states’ rights. The voters and legislatures in 28 states and the District of Columbia that have legalized marijuana for medical use, and another eight states and the District of Columbia that approved adult-use marijuana, have a right to know where Sessions stands on the issue,” Adam Eidinger, co-founder of DCMJ, said in a statement emailed to International Business Times. “President-elect Trump has made it clear that he understands the issue, and he is a staunch supporter of states’ rights. We assume what he says goes, and he will not be overruled by a cabinet appointee.”

While Sessions will have a laundry list of questions to answer during his meeting, some Republicans are also urging Sessions to make it clear that he won’t interfere with marijuana reform and leave it up to the states to decide on laws.

“My advice is always to and has been to respect states’ rights and to look at what other states are doing and wait and see what’s going to happen. So I look forward to having that conversation with him,” Sen. Corey Gardner, R-Colo., said to Bloomberg recently.

Despite Sessions personal agenda against marijuana, some marijuana industry influencers are hopeful he will use his power as attorney general in a way that respects and honors the democratic practices the U.S. was built upon, like honoring the wishes of the voters regardless of his own views.

“Jeff Sessions is no friend to the industry, but the question is how far is he going to go against the will of the voters? This is the way democracy works, and this is the will of the voters,” Peter Barsoom, creator of Colorado-based edible brand 1906, said to International Business Times via phone. “The industry needs to mobilize and the public needs to mobilize to ensure that we protect the hard fought gains.”

DCMJ will also hold a protest during the inauguration on Jan. 20, during which they will pass out over 4,000 joints in effort to generate more support for legal marijuana use at the federal level.