U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaking at the 29th annual Candlelight Vigil.

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DOJ Task Force Recommends No Changes to Federal Cannabis Policy

In its report to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety offered no new policy recommendations related to state-approved cannabis programs, according to an Associated Press report. The task force, comprised of federal law enforcement officials and prosecutors, largely backed the current Justice Department policies outlined by the Obama-era Cole Memo.

John Huck, a Brookings Institute senior fellow who studies cannabis policy and was interviewed by the task force, said that the lack-of-enforcement recommendations reflect an understanding that shuttering the industry is neither possible nor plausible.

“If they come out with a more progressive, liberal policy, the attorney general is just going to reject it,” he said in the report. “They need to convince the attorney general that the recommendations are the best they can do without embarrassing the entire department by implementing a policy that fails.”

Instead of interfering with the industry, the report suggests that the department should work with Treasury officials to provide guidelines to financial institutions as to how to handle cannabis industry banking. The report also suggests that the department develop “centralized guidance, tools and data related to marijuana enforcement,” in order to better document cannabis legalization throughout the nation.

While the Justice Department has not commented on the report, which has not yet been made public, Sessions is not bound by the recommendations. The executive summary of the report obtained by the AP indicates that the task force will continue its work and the recommendations “do not comprehensively address” the totality of the Justice Department’s plans to reduce violent crime.

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