Department of Justice prosecutors have yet to bring charges against pot businesses that are abiding by state law. Meanwhile, President Trump has supported a bill that would allow states to pass their own marijuana laws without federal interference.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions vowed to use federal law to get tough on marijuana. He said in January he was ending Obama-era protections for the pot industry in states where it is legal. Six months into his mission, he is largely going it alone, the Wall Street Journal reports. Sessions’ prosecutors have yet to bring federal charges against pot businesses that are abiding by state law. Fellow Republicans in Congress, with support from President Trump, are promoting bills that would protect or expand the legal pot trade. Sessions has struggled to make his anti-marijuana agenda a reality, a notable contrast with his success in toughening law-and-order policies in other areas. Marijuana advocates say Sessions’ approach has largely backfired. It has helped catalyze bipartisan support for research and for action to improve the industry’s access to banks, which have been generally unwilling to accept proceeds from pot sales.
Sens. Cory Gardner, (R-CO) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) last week introduced a bill that essentially would allow states to pass their own marijuana laws without interference from the federal government. Trump backed Gardner, saying, “I know exactly what he’s doing, we’re looking at it, but I probably will end up supporting that, yes.” More states are legalizing marijuana for medical or even recreational purposes as many parts of society take a more tolerant view of pot, creating a cadre of supporters from both parties. The drug remains illegal under federal law, posing a challenge for U.S. officials in deciding how to pursue it. The Obama administration took a largely hands-off approach to states that had legalized marijuana. Sessions recently told Congress that he is focusing on fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, prescription abuses “in large amounts [that] lead to addiction and death. Those are clearly where we’re moving.”