Donald Trump has instructed his Justice Department to tear up an Obama administration policy not to interfere with state laws allowing people to use pot for medical and recreational uses.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions characterized the dramatic policy shift in a memo outlining the change. as a "return to the rule of law"...
“This memorandum is intended solely as a guide to the exercise of investigative and prosecutorial discretion,”
Despite that language by the Trump's AG federal officials could not answer whether people selling or using marijuana in certain states where it's considered legal would now be more at risk of prosecution.
Senior Justice officials, who briefed reporters under condition of anonymity, said the move was a direct response to the Obama administration’s position that had provided a “de-facto safe haven” for a now thriving weed industry.
That being said the one-page document did not contain any new specific guidelines for how the policy change would be enforced. Instead it only indicated that the marijuana guidance issued by the previous administration, which did not challenge state laws as long as marijuana sales did not conflict with federal law enforcement policies, would be done away with.
FACT CHECK: President Obama's policy on marijuana was hailed as a major breakthrough by advocates for the decriminalization of marijuana use. It effectively discouraged the pursuit of non-violent marijuana users although it did not change marijuana's federal classification as an illegal drug.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Donald Trump supported the action despite his stated position on the campaign trail that marijuana legalization was an issue that should be left up to the states.
Trump even went on the record in a television interview on July 29th in Colorado saying...
"I wouldn’t do that [using federal authority to shut down recreational marijuana], no … I wouldn’t do that … I think it’s up to the states, yeah. I’m a states person. I think it should be up to the states, absolutely."
Not so much now I guess.
The lack of detail in the Trump administration's new policy was either meant to put the entire marijuana industry on notice that federal authorities would not be constrained by the Obama-era guidance or that they simply had not put any thought behind the policy beyond the headlines it would produce.
The announcement comes the same week California launched recreational marijuana sales for adults.
Other states that have approved recreational pot sales include Alaska, Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada, Colorado, Maine and Massachusetts.
Jeff Sessions, a long time opponent of the previous administration's stance on marijuana, has been rumored to be obsessed with marijuana prohibition despite strong public approval for legalizing pot...