It’s Coming: Sessions Orders Review of Legal Pot Policies

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Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently issued a memo outlining the responsibilities of a new Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety, which states violent crime is on the rise (it’s not) and implies the country is being invaded by illegal and violent immigrants who want our jobs. Again, not so. Illegal immigration across the U.S.-Mexico border is way down.

Then, in a separate memo, the Department of Justice announced that a subcommittee of the task force has the job of “evaluating marijuana enforcement policy.”

The task force is made up of organization heads who are chomping at the bit to get out there and kick some butt—or “relevant Department components” as the memo calls them. They include the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the administrator of the DEA, the director of the FBI and the director of the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS).

The fact that Sessions has asked the task force to issue recommendations by July 27, seems to imply there won’t be any major federal crackdown on weed until after that date.

Although Sessions has given lip service to the Obama-era Cole Memo, calling it “valuable” and “valid,” people are worried. (The Cole Memo suggests that weed businesses needn’t worry about federal prosecution as long as they comply with state law.)

Governors of Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington wrote to Sessions this week asking him to uphold the Cole Memo and consult with them before making any changes to regulations or enforcement.

But What If They Don’t?

Marijuana legalization advocates say if the Justice Department makes big changes, they should be ready for a fight.

“If Jeff Sessions is looking for ways to make the Justice Department even more unpopular than it is right now, then you know, go ahead and pick that battle over marijuana,” said Michael Collins, deputy director at the Drug Policy Alliance, reported NPR. “But it’s going to be a very unpopular fight, and it’s going to be something that he receives a lot of blowback for.”

So What’s To Be Done?

NORML executive director, Erik Altieri, suggests keeping up the pressure on Congress.

Per NORML: Congress can remove all of the bite from Jeff Sessions’ bark by approving the bipartisan Respect State Marijuana Laws Act, which would allow states to legalize medical or general adult use of marijuana without fear of federal incursion. Jeff Sessions said his job is solely to enforce current law, so let’s change those laws to ensure our reform victories remain in place and that we can expand those efforts to more states. 

Change rarely comes from the top on down, it comes from the bottom on up. That is why it is imperative that not only do you contact your federal officials in support of changing policy, but also push for change at the local and state levels.

How do you contact your officials to tell them how you feel about the bipartisan Respect State Marijuana Laws Act? That’s easy, click here.

Remember, lots of these politicians are up for re-election or special election in 2018, and, so far, we are still living in a democratic country, so let them know what you think.

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