Earlier today, avowed marijuana opponent Attorney General Jeff Sessions-who is reported to have said he was OK with the KKK until he discovered they smoke pot-announced he was reversing an Obama-era policy that basically stopped federal authorities from preventing the sale of marijuana in states where voters had approved its sale.
Southern District of California U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman said Sessions' memo outlining the changes "returns trust and local control to federal prosecutors" to enforce the Controlled Substance Act.
"It is the mission of the Department of Justice to enforce the laws of the United States, and the previous issuance of guidance undermines the rule of law and the ability of our local, state, tribal and federal law enforcement partners to carry out this mission", Sessions said in a statement.
Leafly contributor Lisa Rough explains that the memo directed federal prosecutors to limit their focus to cannabis distribution to minors, those involved with the black market, and transferring marijuana from a state where it's legal to another state.
Federal laws banning the cultivation, distribution and possession of marijuana "reflect Congress' determination that marijuana is a risky drug and that marijuana activity is a serious crime", Sessions said in a memo to US attorneys.
Session's move comes after the January 1 implementation of California's Proposition 64, which legalized the sale of recreational marijuana to adults in the state. Murphy has made legalizing pot a priority for his first year as governor, and state lawmakers are expected to debate the issue in the coming months.
"Previous nationwide guidance specific to marijuana enforcement is unnecessary and is rescinded, effective immediately", Sessions told the USA attorneys based in all 50 states in a letter Thursday. Eight of those states also allow recreational marijuana.
The administration's action drew condemnation from marijuana legalization advocates and politicians in both parties in states where the drug has been legalized. Trump told a TV news reporter that the decision to legalize marijuana should be left "up to the states". How will the change in policy affect the multibillion-dollar marijuana industry?
Local opponents of legal marijuana seized on Sessions' memo as proof New Jersey officials should slow down on legalizing weed. "This equation has many different variables".
USA attorneys in California paid little heed, continuing a campaign they had begun in 2012 to shut down medical marijuana dispensaries by suing their landlords. "The cultivation, distribution, and possession of marijuana has always been and remains a violation of federal law", Braverman said via a written statement.
In the memo, Sessions emphasized that he "simply directs all U.S. Attorneys to use previously established prosecutorial principles that provide them all the necessary tools to disrupt criminal organizations, tackle the growing drug crisis, and thwart violent crime across our country".
Among the guidance that Sessions rescinded was the so-called Ogden Memorandum of 2009 that instructed federal prosecutors not to pursue cases against medical marijuana patients and distributors who complied with state laws. (DC also allows sales, and MA is expected to start issuing licenses in July.) Twenty-nine states have legalized the sale and use of cannabis for medical purposes.
"The people most harmed by the war on drugs in the US have overwhelmingly been black and brown people, who have been disproportionately arrested, incarcerated, and deported for drug offenses, including simple drug possession, even though white people use drugs at the same rates", McFarland Sánchez-Moreno says.
"Sessions' determination to revive the failed War on Drugs is fiscally wasteful, morally bankrupt, unjust-and won't make us safer", Booker wrote on Twitter.
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