Sessions Hints Tougher DOJ Stance on Recreational Pot

Attorney General Jeff Sessions says, “We are working our way through to a rational policy” on whether to give six states plus D.C. leeway in allowing recreational use of marijuana, which is banned by federal law.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is hinting that the Justice Department may take a tougher stance on recreational marijuana in the near future. Such a policy change would have a significant impact on the five states and the District of Columbia that already allow the drug to be used for more than medicinal purposes, McClatchy Newspapers reports. California is scheduled to join that group on Jan. 1. Sessions previously indicated that he would continue the policy of former President Obama, which allows state officials leeway in how they deal with the drug as long as they meet certain standards, like keeping cannabis out of the hands of minors, keeping it from crossing into states where it isn’t legal and preventing drugged driving.

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, and the Trump administration could crack down. “We are working our way through to a rational policy, but I don’t want to suggest in any way that this department believes that marijuana is harmless and people should not avoid it,” the attorney general said Wednesday, noting that DOJ was also considering how to deal with opiods and other drugs. As of January, recreational marijuana will be legal in Alaska, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Nevada, Oregon and Washington state. It will become legal in Massachusetts in July. In some of those jurisdictions, cannabis has become a significant industry. In Colorado, 2016 sales totaled $1.3 billion and provided the state with nearly $200 million in additional tax revenue, according to the state Department of Revenue.