Sessions Says He Is Sticking With His Predecessors’ Tolerance of State-Legal Marijuana

Testifying before the House Judiciary Committee today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions confirmed that he is not abandoning his predecessors’ policy of prosecutorial forbearance regarding state-licensed marijuana businesses. “Our policy is the same, really, fundamentally, as the Holder-Lynch policy, which is that the federal law remains in effect and a state can legalize marijuana for its law enforcement purposes, but it still remains illegal with regard to federal purposes,” Sessions said in response to a question from Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio).
Sessions left unsaid another key aspect of that policy, which was outlined in a 2013 memo from Deputy Attorney General James Cole. Cole encouraged federal prosecutors to leave state-legal cannabusinesses alone unless they impinge on “federal law enforcement priorities” such as preventing underage consumption, interstate smuggling, and drugged driving or other “adverse public health consequences.” While the Cole memo leaves a lot of leeway for an attorney general who wants to

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