Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who absolutely loves the war on drugs, has decided to eliminate President Barack Obama’s marijuana policy that led to numerous states legalizing the plant.

The Associated Press reported that Sessions will allow “federal prosecutors where pot is legal decide how aggressively to enforce federal marijuana laws.”

Sessions has made it no secret since his confirmation that he will continue his beloved war on drugs. One of the first things he did as AG was review marijuana policies. The AP continued:

Sessions’ policy will let U.S. attorneys across the country decide what kinds of federal resources to devote to marijuana enforcement based on what they see as priorities in their districts, the people familiar with the decision said.

Sessions and some law enforcement officials in states such as Colorado blame legalization for a number of problems, including drug traffickers that have taken advantage of lax marijuana laws to hide in plain sight, illegally growing and shipping the drug across state lines, where it can sell for much more. The decision was a win for pot opponents who had been urging Sessions to take action.

“There is no more safe haven with regard to the federal government and marijuana, but it’s also the beginning of the story and not the end,” said Kevin Sabet, president and CEO of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, who was among several anti-marijuana advocates who met with Sessions last month. “This is a victory. It’s going to dry up a lot of the institutional investment that has gone toward marijuana in the last five years.”

Ryan Reilly at HuffPo said that one official at the DOJ told reporters that this memo is a “return to the rule of law.”

Obama and his Justice Department announced in 2013 that officials “would not directly challenge state marijuana legalization laws and would take a narrower role enforcing federal law against pot sales.” The officials passed around a memo with guidelines:

A series of guidelines, widely referred to as the Cole memo after Deputy Attorney General James Cole, said federal enforcement and prosecution efforts would focus on preventing drug-related violence, as well as stopping distribution to minors, weeding out gang involvement and blocking marijuana from being transported to states where it remains illegal.

Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder used these policies as way to lower the population in federal prisons and tried to find new ways to prosecute and sentence drug criminals. He told his “federal prosecutors to avoid seeking long mandatory minimum sentences when charging certain lower level drug offenders.”

Sessions has an order out that demands federal prosecutors “pursue the most serious charges possible against most suspects.” Here is wording from a memo sent out in May:

First, it is a core principle that prosecutors should charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense. This policy affirms our responsibility to enforce the law, is moral and just, and produces consistency. This policy fully utilizes the tools Congress has given us. By definition, the most serious offense are those that carry the most substantial guidelines sentence, including mandatory minimum sentences.

The memo states that there may be times prosecutors feel “that a strict application of the above charging policy is not warranted.” If they want to go that route, they have to receive permission from “a United States Attorney or Assistant Attorney general, or a supervisor designated by the United States Attorney or Assistant Attorney General, and the reasons must be documented in the file.”

Eight states and D.C. have legalized marijuana. The plant became legal in California on January 1. The New York Daily News noted “that 64% of Americans support legalizing marijuana, with both political parties mostly iin [sic] favor.” Colorado first legalized it in 2014.

Olivier Knox at Yahoo News spoke with Colorado’s Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, who lambasted Sessions’ decision, especially since the attorney general supposedly told him before his confirmation that he would not touch marijuana laws:

“I’m prepared to hold every Justice Department nominee until Jeff Sessions lives up to what he told me, lives up to his commitment,” Gardner said. A “hold” is a senatorial threat, frequently invoked to gain leverage over the executive branch, to filibuster nominees.

“Jeff Sessions told me this wouldn’t be a priority, Jeff Sessions told me the policy would not be reversed, and today Jeff Sessions went back on his word,” the senator said.

Gardner said Sessions made the assurances in “a call specifically set up because I would not release my vote [to confirm him as attorney general] until I got an answer.”

“He said ‘this is just not something that President Trump is focused on.’ And apparently, it’s not just a focus, it’s a primary initiative of the new year,” Gardner fumed.

Gardner reminded everyone that he personally opposed marijuana legalization, but the people in his state felt differently and voted for it:

If you’re a Republican in Washington, if you’re a Republican in California, if you’re a Republican in other states that have legalized, then this becomes a significant barrier toward understanding this administration’s policy,” he said.


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