Sessions Will End Legal Marijuana Policy

The Department of Justice rescinded on Thursday an Obama-era policy which enabled states legalizing the drug an easier enforcement of federal laws, thus giving prosecutors the freedom to pursue criminal charges.

As a result of Attorney General Jeff Session’s latest move, announced in a memo, the marijuana industry in the six states which have made the use of marijuana for recreational purposes legal will now face undesirable consequences.

“Previous nationwide guidance specific to marijuana enforcement is unnecessary and is rescinded, effective immediately,” the memo read.

According to The Hill, Sessions has long been an opponent of marijuana legalization and has vowed to crack down on the booming cannabis market. Opponents of legal marijuana applauded the attorney general’s decision.

“It’s pretty clear that the federal policy is going to be that U.S. attorneys will have discretion and the industry can no longer hide behind the Cole memo and say that they’re protected,” said Kevin Sabet who now runs the anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana.

However, the federal government may now come into conflict with states where marijuana is legal, including California which on Monday became the sixth one to legalize it. In some of these states, the cannabis industry has flourished, with hedge funds investing millions in production and sales.

Other states that permit the regulated sale of marijuana for recreational use include Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Nevada. Massachusetts and Maine are on track to do so this year.

Advocates for marijuana use condemned the administration’s action, arguing that it denies voters’ rights in those states, creating uncertainty about to which extent federal drug laws will be enforced, Reuters reports.

The Obama administration policy was outlined by former Deputy Attorney General James Cole in a series of memos which became known as the Cole memos, deprioritizing the pursuit if marijuana-related criminal cases in states where the drug had been legalized.

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