January 4, 2018 — Washington Post. By Matt Zapotosky and Sari Horwitz January 4 at 10:09 AM
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is rescinding an Obama-era directive that discouraged enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states that had legalized the substance, according to people familiar with the decision.
The move potentially paves the way for the federal government to crack down on the burgeoning pot industry — though the precise impact remains to be seen. Marijuana already was illegal under U.S. law, even as federal prosecutors had been advised against bringing cases involving it in states that approved its use and sale.
The people who described Sessions’s decision, first reported by the Associated Press, spoke on the condition of anonymity. A formal announcement was expected later Thursday.
Eight states and the District of Columbia have laws allowing for personal pot consumption, according to NORML, a group which advocates legalization and tracks pot-related legislation.
Sessions has long taken a hard line stance against marijuana. He has said in the past that he did not believe marijuana should be legalized, even suggesting at an appearance last year that medical marijuana had been “hyped, maybe too much.” He and top Justice Department officials had long been reviewing the 2013 guidance from then Deputy Attorney James Cole directing federal prosecutors to effectively back off marijuana enforcement in states that had legalized the substance and had a system in place to regulate it.
In practice, that meant U.S. attorneys in jurisdictions that had legalized marijuana at the state level were often reluctant to bring marijuana cases — though Cole’s memo stressed that Congress had determined it to be an illegal drug that provided significant revenue to gangs. They might now be more willing to consider such prosecutions — though they will still potentially have to contend with jurors sympathetic to defendants whose conduct would not be illegal under state law.
Link to Washington Post article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/sessions-is-rescinding-obama-era-directive-for-feds-to-back-off-marijuana-enforcement-in-states-with-legal-pot/2018/01/04/b1a42746-f157-11e7-b3bf-ab90a706e175_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_no-name%3Apage%2Fbreaking-news-bar&tidr=a_breakingnews&utm_term=.891dbd52fcdb