Reformers Slam Jeff Sessions' New Policy on Federal Marijuana Enforcement

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Cannabis analysts weren't too anxious for the most part about the decision by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to rescind an Obama-era policy that effectively limited federal enforcement of marijuana laws in states where it was legal. It says federal prosecutors should consider the seriousness of the crime and law enforcement priorities of the attorney general, among other factors, when deciding which marijuana activities to prosecute. Another Republican senator, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, called the announcement "disruptive" and "regrettable".

"I am prepared to take all steps necessary, including holding DOJ nominees, until the attorney general lives up to the commitment he made to me prior to his confirmation", Gardner wrote on Twitter.

"What Jeff Sessions wants to do is roll back all of that". That report increased the public pressure on him to give up supervision of the probe.

Sessions' policy will let USA attorneys across the country decide what kinds of federal resources to devote to marijuana enforcement based on what they see as priorities in their districts. Over the past years, over 150,000 jobs have been created in the legal cannabis market.

It comes just after shops opened in California, launching what is expected to become the world's largest market for legal recreational marijuana and as polls show a solid majority of Americans believe the drug should be legal. What happens now is in doubt.

Sessions' new memo does not explicitly set forth how prosecutors should treat medical marijuana, though a senior Justice official explained that prosecutors wouldn't do anything contrary to any current federal law. "Knowing that the effort will receive no additional funding, it's hard for us to see how the Justice Department will be able to pursue new, broad-sweeping anti-marijuana actions". He has also linked marijuana to spikes in violence and called it "only slightly less terrible than heroin". Cory Gardner of Colorado, one of eight states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use. Another 22 states allow only some form of medical marijuana and 15 allow a lesser medical marijuana extract. His statement makes no reference to the state's voter-approved law, but does say his office would use "prosecutorial discretion" in enforcing federal law. In California, the business is estimated to bring in $1 billion a year in tax money within the next several years. In Oregon, U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams said he would maintain the same level of enforcement and focus on unlicensed production of marijuana and smuggling out of state. In plain terms, this memo made way for states to move forward with legalization with limited intervention from the federal government.

Becky Dansky, a spokeswoman for the Marijuana Policy Project, said that the concerns about 2nd Amendment rights have been raised around the country, but not all states are barring medical marijuana patients from buying firearms, despite the federal gun law.

The Obama administration in 2013 announced it would not stand in the way of states that legalize marijuana, so long as officials acted to keep it from migrating to places where it remained outlawed and keep it out of the hands of criminal gangs and children. They also declined to specify what message the attorney general is sending to the pot industry, which is expanding in states with their own more lenient laws.

Gen. Xavier Becerra said Thursday that if a new federal policy results in prosecutors charging marijuana growers and sellers licensed by the state, he would not rule out intervening in court on behalf of the state-sanctioned business. Sessions in the memo called the Obama guidance "unnecessary". It drew swift condemnation from advocates of criminal justice reform and drug policy reform.

Mueller also has obtained notes from Reince Priebus, Trump's former chief of staff, indicating Priebus and Trump talked about the president urging Comey to say publicly he was not being personally investigated, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Caitlyn Jenner: Why I only care about my biological kids
Storm causing airline cancellations, flight suspensions