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AG Sessions’ Plan for Legal Marijuana Is Still a Mystery

Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images

While the cannabis community has been waiting on bended knee for the past several months to learn the results of a federal marijuana review ordered by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the latest reports seem to indicate that it could still be awhile before we know exactly how the Trump administration intends to proceed with legal marijuana.

Last week, Sessions took to the DOJ website to provide an update on the work of the Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety, which was assembled in April to investigate a number of federal policies, including those pertaining to marijuana legalization. The findings of the review were due to land on Sessions’ desk by July 27.

Although the Justice Department’s inquiry has centered mostly on what it could mean for the continued existence of legal weed in the United States, Sessions’ update does not give any indication that the cannabis industry is going to suffer a federal crackdown.

In a statement, Sessions said the task force “has provided me with recommendations on a rolling basis…identifying successful violent crime reduction strategies; and developing recommendations on actions the Department can take to help improve public safety.”

“I have been acting on the Task Force’s recommendations to set the policy of the Department. I will continue to review all of the Task Force’s recommendations, and look forward to taking additional steps towards ensuring safer communities for all Americans,” he added.

Last Wednesday, the Huffington Post’s Matt Ferner learned that the task force likely submitted its recommendations ahead of the due date. A spokesperson for the Department told Ferner that the details of the review had already been gathered, but no changes in policy have been made—at least not yet.

“We’ll make announcements on policy changes when we have announcements to make,” the unidentified spokesperson said, according to a Twitter post.

There is no denying that Sessions has been building a case against legal marijuana since taking over at the Justice Department.

In addition to initiating the federal marijuana review, he petitioned Congress in hopes of eliminating the medical marijuana protections known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, as well as made policy changes that will increase prison sentences for drug offenders and ramp up the civil asset forfeiture program.

Yet, the leading hammer for the Justice Department has not announced any definitive agenda to launch a full-blown attack against the cannabis industry.

Fortunately, his hands are tied to some degree. The U.S. Senate recently approved its version of the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, a signal from the upper chamber that the Hill is not at all buying into his drug war resurrection tactics. If the House does the same, which is expected, the Justice Department will have absolutely no power to impose any kind of crackdown on the medical sector.

But, that does not mean that Sessions (or his successor) won’t eventually rescind or revise an Obama-era memo that gives states the freedom to experiment with recreational marijuana. After all, the Trump administration has not exactly been keen on keeping any of the Obama administration’s directives in place. But just how the Justice Department will move on the issue remains a mystery.

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