As Jeff Sessions creates chaos in the marijuana community with his rescission of the Obama policy of non-interference with marijuana-friendly state laws, U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman issued a statement backing Session’s new policy. He stated that the change “returns trust and local control to federal prosecutors” to enforce the Controlled Substance Act. Other U.S. Attorney Generals in states like Colorado have said their offices will not change their lenient approach to marijuana crimes.
What Exactly did Jeff Sessions do?
While marijuana currently remains illegal under federal law (the Controlled Substances Act), eight states including California, Oregon, and Colorado have legalized the drug, as has Washington, D.C, creating a conflict of law situation. 28 states currently permit some form of medical marijuana use.
President Obama’s Justice Department issued a policy in 2013 which generally barred federal law enforcement officials from interfering with marijuana sales in states where the drug is legal. Sessions issued a memo in his capacity as Attorney General that will instead let federal prosecutors where marijuana is legal decide how aggressively to enforce longstanding federal law prohibiting it. The one-page memo states: “In deciding which marijuana activities to prosecute under these laws with the Department’s finite resources, prosecutors should follow the well-established principles that govern all federal prosecutions,” by considering the seriousness of the crime and its impact on the community.
These changes come just after the New Year, as legal weed shops opened in California. California is expected to become the world’s largest market for legal recreational marijuana, and is overwhelmingly supported by American voters.
While Sessions’ Justice Department had been largely carrying out Trump’s top priorities until now, this marijuana policy strictly reflects his own personal feelings. Sessions has compared marijuana to being as harmful as heroin.
It is unknown yet how this policy will really affect California’s marijuana market and criminal charges.
Pot Has Nothing to do With San Diego’s Violent Crime
A recent survey (titled “The 2017 National Drug Threat Assessment”) of law enforcement and intelligence agencies conducted by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency says marijuana usage has been responsible for 0% of crime increases in San Diego. Rather, the report concluded that meth entering the country through the Southwest border remains the biggest threat to crime rates. Meth smuggled from Mexico is predicted to increase due to the demand in the U.S. and lack of availability of it, compared to marijuana. Continue reading