Although previous reports have indicated that the cannabis industry may be in the clear when it comes to the prospect of a federal marijuana crackdown, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has now hinted the folks at the Justice Department might still be out for blood.
In a press briefing earlier today pertaining to the opioid crisis, Sessions told reporters that the DOJ was currently in the process of determining whether the Obama administration’s “hands off” approach to legal weed will remain a functional part of national drug policy.
The attorney general, of course, was referring to a temporary directive known as the “Cole Memo,” which was issued by former Attorney General Eric Holder in 2013. It is a non-binding provision, consisting of a set of eight guidelines, designed to limit federal interference in states that want to experiment with the legalization of cannabis.
But Sessions, who is no friend to the concept of marijuana legalization, believes the cannabis plant being pulled from the grips of prohibitionary times, even if only at the state level, has contributed to a wealth of problematic events—including the opioid crisis.
“It’s my view that the use of marijuana is detrimental, and we should not give encouragement in any way to it, and it represents a federal violation, which is in the law and it’s subject to being enforced, and our priorities will have to be focused on all the things and challenges we face,” Sessions said when asked whether a revision to marijuana policy might come into play with respect to the federal government’s battle with opioids.
“We’ll be working our way through to a rational policy,” he added. “But I don’t want to suggest in any way that this department believes that marijuana is harmless and people should not avoid it.”
Ever since Sessions took over at the Justice Department earlier this year, it has been understood that he, as President Trump’s leading law enforcement hammer, holds the power to establish his own set of rules when it comes to enforcing nationwide marijuana laws.
Not only has Sessions begged Congress to abandon the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which prevents the DOJ from spending tax dollars to go after the medical marijuana community, he has also suggested that no other states would be allowed to legalize the leaf on his watch.
Although Sessions did not come right out and say that a federal marijuana crackdown is on the horizon, he did indicate that the DOJ is looking “very hard right now” at the Cole Memo.
If the Trump administration chooses to eliminate this policy, it would give the DEA and other federal agencies a green light to begin tearing down the cannabis trade as we know it.
This is developing story. We will keep you updated as more information about a potential federal marijuana crackdown becomes available.