Even as the U.S. Justice Department and Drug Enforcement Administration make major moves to stem the opioid crisis, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has marijuana enforcement on his mind.
During a press conference Wednesday announcing new grants and DEA deployments designed to address opioid trafficking, Sessions revealed that his DOJ discussed federal marijuana enforcement policies the day prior.
“In fact, we’re working on that very hard right now. We had meetings yesterday and talked about it at some length,” he said when questioned about the future of the Cole Memo, Obama-era guidance outlining law enforcement and financial oversight priorities for states that have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use.
“It’s my view that the use of marijuana is detrimental and we should not give encouragement in any way to it,” he continued. “It represents a federal violation which is in the law and is subject to being enforced, and our priorities will have to be focused on all the things and challenges we face. We’ve got fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, prescription drugs, and marijuana and other drugs. So we’ll be working our way through to a rational policy. But I don’t want to suggest in any way that this department believes that marijuana is harmless and people should not avoid it.”
Sessions’ revelation that DOJ officials are currently reviewing marijuana enforcement policies comes two weeks after he told the House Judiciary Committee that the Cole Memo “remains in effect.”
His comments also come on the same day that a letter was made public in which 66 members of Congress urged Senate and House leaders to extend federal medical marijuana protections that have been in place since December 2014. Those protections, known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment (previously Rohrabacher-Farr), prohibit DOJ from using federal funds to prevent certain states “from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”