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Wyn Van Devanter

AG Sessions Told GOP Senators No Big Cannabis Policy Shift Coming

According to a report from Politico, Attorney General Jeff Sessions privately told some Republican senators – before his confirmation – that he won’t interfere with states allowing legal cannabis use. The report comes eight days after White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said he expected “greater enforcement” of federal cannabis laws, and just days after Sessions confirmed that the Cole memo was under review, and remarked that he is “dubious about marijuana” at the National Association of Attorneys General Winter Meeting.  

Colorado Sen. Corey Gardner said that since Sessions’ confirmation the administration has indicated no big policy changes concerning cannabis laws.

“Nothing at this point has changed,” he said in the report.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a favorite of states’ rights-loving libertarians, said that Sessions told him “he would have some respect for states’ right on these things.”

“And so I’ll be very unhappy if the federal government decides to go into Colorado and Washington and all of these places,” Paul said. “And that’s not … [what] my interpretation of my conversation with him was. That this wasn’t his intention.”

Yesterday a bipartisan group of senators from states with either legal adult or medical use sent a letter to the Attorney General requesting that he “uphold the [Department of Justice’s] existing policy regarding states that have implemented strong and effective regulations for recreational marijuana use and ask that the Cole Memorandum remain in place.”

“It is essential that states that have implemented any type of practical, effective marijuana policy receive immediate assurance from the DOJ that it will respect the ability of states to enforce thoughtful, sensible drug policies in ways that do not threaten the public’s health and safety,” the letter states. “This ensures that state infrastructure, including tax revenue, small businesses, and jobs, can be protected; DOJ resources can be used most effectively; and most importantly, that marijuana can be properly regulated to improve public health and safety.”

According to the report, a DOJ spokesperson said that “the department’s current policy is reflected in the 2013 Cole Memo.”

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