Days after California legalized recreational marijuana, Federal Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo, on January 4, directing all US attorneys to enforce prohibitive marijuana laws.
This is what the memo had to say:
The Department of Justice today issued a memo on federal marijuana enforcement policy announcing a return to the rule of law and the rescission of previous guidance documents. Since the passage of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) in 1970, Congress has generally prohibited the cultivation, distribution, and possession of marijuana.
In the memorandum, Attorney General Jeff Sessions directs all U.S. Attorneys to enforce the laws enacted by Congress and to follow well-established principles when pursuing prosecutions related to marijuana activities. This return to the rule of law is also a return of trust and local control to federal prosecutors who know where and how to deploy Justice Department resources most effectively to reduce violent crime, stem the tide of the drug crisis, and dismantle criminal gangs.
“It is the mission of the Department of Justice to enforce the laws of the United States, and the previous issuance of guidance undermines the rule of law and the ability of our local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement partners to carry out this mission,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “Therefore, today’s memo on federal marijuana enforcement simply directs all U.S. Attorneys to use previously established prosecutorial principles that provide them all the necessary tools to disrupt criminal organizations, tackle the growing drug crisis, and thwart violent crime across our country.”
This memo is a directive that rescinds the 2013 Cole Memorandum, during the Obama administration, which declared the federal government would not enforce federal drug laws in states that legalized marijuana, as long as activities remained within state borders and was kept out of the hands of children and underground criminal gangs.
The Attorney General’s directive brought about passionate condemnation from Republicans, Democrats, Industry and the pubic.
Reactions to the reversal of the Cole Memorandum:
The National Republican Senatorial Committee head Sen. Cory Gardner, representing the State of Colorado where recreational marijuana is legal, stated the following. “This reported action directly contradicts what Attorney General Sessions told me prior to his confirmation. With no prior notice to Congress, the Justice Department has trampled on the will of the voters in CO and other states,” Gardner tweeted, “I am prepared to take all steps necessary, including holding DOJ nominees, until the Attorney General lives up to the commitment he made to me prior to his confirmation.”
Democrat Ron Wyden, representing the State of Oregon where pot sales have also been legalized, criticized the president. Wyden said in a statement:
Executive Director of NORML, Erik Altieri stated the following in a release:
“By rescinding the Cole Memo, Jeff Sessions is acting on his warped desire to return America to the failed beliefs of the ‘Just Say No’ and Reefer Madness eras. This action flies in the face of sensible public policy and broad public opinion. The American people overwhelmingly support the legalization of marijuana and oppose federal intervention in state marijuana laws by an even wider margin. This move by the Attorney General will prove not just to be a disaster from a policy perspective, but from a political one. The American people will not just sit idly by while he upends all the progress that has been made in dialing back the mass incarceration fueled by marijuana arrests and destabilizes an industry that is now responsible for over 150,000 jobs. Ending our disgraceful war on marijuana is the will of the people and the Trump Administration can expect severe backlash for opposing it,” said Erik Altieri.
By Marijuana.Ca Staff