Attorney General Jeff Sessions hinted that he would try to take federal action against states that have legalized recreational marijuana sales, but it’s not clear what the Justice Department may do.
With thousands of jobs and billions of dollars at stake, is Attorney General Jeff Sessions preparing to mess with voter-approved sales of recreational marijuana? It’s a prime question in six Western and two New England states that have legalized marijuana use despite a federal law classifying weed as a controlled, dangerous drug. And it appears Colorado, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Alaska, Maine and Massachusetts are likely to get a lot of company, the Los Angeles Times reports. Fourteen additional states are planning similar recreational-sale initiatives, possibly this year. The rush to legalize marijuana has been driven by the potential tax and economic boosts of an industry already generating an estimated $6 billion in annual sales. Twenty-nine states also have decriminalized or legalized medical marijuana. See Also: “How Uruguay Left Pot Prohibition Era Behind.”
“Last year, while a Republican senator from Alabama, Sessions called weed dangerous and “not something to laugh about.” The government needs “to send that message with clarity — that good people don’t smoke marijuana.” This year, as President Trump’s attorney general, Sessions said marijuana’s effect “is only slightly less awful” than heroin’s. (Nearly 13,000 people died from heroin overdoses in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while no one has ever been recorded as fatally overdosing on marijuana, the Drug Enforcement Administration says.) Sessions warned four governors in letters released last week that he had “serious concerns” about the effects of legalization and suggested the states’ drug detente with the Justice Department was at risk. The letters were sent to Govs. Jay Inslee of Washington, John Hickenlooper of Colorado, Kate Brown of Oregon (all Democrats) and Bill Walker of Alaska (a left-leaning Independent). Citing recent federal and state investigations into the impact of pot legalization, Sessions listed repeated breakdowns in security, distribution and the controlled use of marijuana in all four states.