Jeff Sessions: Federal prosecutors won't pursue small marijuana cases

Jeff Sessions: Feds Will Focus On Drug Gangs, Ignore 'Routine Cases'

Jeff Sessions: Feds Will Focus On Drug Gangs, Ignore 'Routine Cases'

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions admitted over the weekend that the Department of Justice simply can't enforce the federal government's marijuana prohibition even if he was so inclined. Since assuming the role as Donald Trump's Attorney General previous year, Sessions has brought those views to the national stage, including his comparing cannabis to deadly drugs like heroin, continually threatening to sic federal law enforcement agencies on state-approved cannabis operators, and rescinding the Cole Memo, an Obama-era directive created to protect state-level canna-business.

Federal law enforcement lacks the resources to take on "routine cases" and will continue to focus on drug gangs and larger conspiracies, Sessions said. "Federal agents are highly paid, highly trained, and they work on cases involving cartels, worldwide organizations, major distribution networks, large amounts of cash". The comments come after the Trump administration in January threw the burgeoning marijuana legalization movement into uncertainty by reversing the largely hands-off approach that prevailed during the Obama administration, saying federal prosecutors should instead handle marijuana cases however they see fit. But, he added, federal prosecutors "haven't been working small marijuana cases before, they are not going to be working them now".

Sessions reiterated that the DOJ's cannabis focus will remain on large-scale trafficking operations working outside of state laws.

"I am not going to tell Colorado or California or someone else that possession of marijuana is legal under United States law", Sessions said, according to the Associated Press. Some law enforcement officials in pot-legal states argue the legal trade has caused unintended problems like black-market marijuana growing and dealing by people who don't even try to conform to the legal framework.

"Those are the kinds of things each one of those USA attorneys will decide how to handle", Sessions said.

Sessions' comments may have meant to clarify federal cannabis policy, but many industry insiders are scratching their heads wondering what the DOJ policy actually is.

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