Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks at the National Association of Attorneys General annual winter meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, in Washington, D.C. (Alex Brandon, The Associated Press)

Jeff Sessions to AGs: “We don’t need to be legalizing marijuana”

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reiterated his opposition to marijuana legalization while addressing a collection of the nation’s attorneys general on Tuesday.

In responding to a question about the war on drugs, Sessions noted a rise in heroin overdose deaths and those from the painkiller fentanyl. Stating that “crime does follow drugs,” he added that in the 1970s and ’80s, many lives were destroyed by drug abuse, adding that the drugs today are more powerful.

In Sessions’ comments at the annual meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General in Washington, D.C., he also addressed the legalization of marijuana:

“I, as you know, am dubious about marijuana. States can pass whatever laws they choose, but I’m not sure we’re going to be a better, healthier nation if we have marijuana being sold at every corner grocery store.

I just don’t think that’s going to be good for us, and we’ll have to work our way through that.

I see a line in The Washington Post today that I remember from the ’80s. This one was, if you smoke marijuana, it’s a cure for opiate abuse. Give me a break. This is the kind of argument that’s been made out there to just almost a desperate attempt to defend the harmlessness of marijuana or even its benefits.

I doubt that’s true. Maybe science will prove I’m wrong, but at this point in time, you and I have a responsibility to use our best judgment — that which we’ve learned over a period of years — and speak truth as best we can.

My best view is that we don’t need to be legalizing marijuana and we need to crack down more effectively on heroin and fentanyl and other drugs. And part of the federal leadership will be drug distribution networks, cartels that threaten the very governments of nations to our south.”

The Associated Press reported Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman wants Sessions to learn more about how recreational marijuana is regulated at the state level before enacting any federal policy changes.

“I’d like to be able to share what we have learned and where we have put in place a good framework for marijuana regulations,” she told The Associated Press. “Now for the federal government to say we’re doing things wrong, or we’re going to come in and take this regulation away from you without having first looked to see what we’re doing is precipitous.”

Sessions on Monday told reporters that “there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think” and said his department was reviewing a Justice Department memorandum, widely known as the Cole Memo, which offered guidance for federal prosecutors and law enforcement in marijuana efforts.