So far, authoritarian Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has suddenly decided to aggressively go after people for smoking or ingesting a plant, does not appear to be backing down from his recent declarations that he intends on prosecuting pot smokers, even in states where it is legal for them, by state laws, to do so.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Thursday he is effectively unleashing the hounds of the federal government on states that allow for the legalized sale of marijuana, ending a hands-off approach by the previous administration and ignoring promises made by his own boss, President Donald Trump.
In a 2016 interview with a local reporter in Colorado, which legalized recreational cannabis five years ago, then-candidate Trump insisted he would not allow his AG to override state law by prosecuting marijuana businesses and growers. “I’m a states person. I think it should be up to the states, absolutely,” he told Brandon Rittiman from Channel 9 News at the time.
Yet officials suggested to reporters Thursday that businesses and growers in legalized states have gotten too comfortable and that the primacy of state law means very little in Washington. Effectively, Sessions has rescinded a 2013 guidance issued by then-Deputy Attorney General Jim Cole that limited prosecutions as along as individuals and businesses were operating under their state’s laws.
“The Cole memo as interpreted created a safe harbor for the marijuana industry to operate in these states. There is a belief that that is inconsistent with what federal law says,” a senior Department of Justice official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Politico. “I can’t sit here and say whether it will or will not lead to more marijuana prosecutions,” the official continued. “We believe U.S. attorneys’ offices should be opened up to bring all of these cases that are necessary to be brought.”