Attorney General Jeff Sessions is rescinding the Obama-era policy that paved the way for states to legalize marijuana, most recently in California this week the move will add to confusion about whether it’s OK to grow,buy or use pot in states where it is legal.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is rescinding the Obama-era policy that had paved the way for legalized marijuana to flourish in states across the U.S., the Associated Press reports. Sessions will instead let federal prosecutors where pot is legal decide how aggressively to enforce federal marijuana law. The move likely will add to confusion about whether it’s OK to grow, buy or use marijuana in states where pot is legal, because longstanding federal law prohibits it. It comes three after pot shops opened in California, launching what is expected to become the world’s largest market for legal recreational marijuana. Surveys show a solid majority of Americans believe the drug should be legal.
While Sessions has been carrying out a Justice Department agenda that follows President Trump’s top priorities on such issues as immigration and opioids, the changes to pot policy reflect his own concerns. Sessions, who has called marijuana comparable to heroin and has blamed it for spikes in violence, had been expected to ramp up enforcement. Pot advocates argue that legalizing the drug eliminates the need for a black market and would likely reduce violence, because criminals would no longer control the marijuana trade. The Obama administration, in a memo by then-Deputy Attorney General James Cole that Sessions is rescinding, said it would not stand in the way of states that legalize marijuana if officials kept it from migrating to places where it remained outlawed and out of the hands of criminal gangs and children. The pot business has become a sophisticated, multimillion-dollar industry that helps fund schools, educational programs and law enforcement. Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use. California’s sales alone are projected to bring in $1 billion annually in tax revenue within several years.