Citing “violence around marijuana,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions has confirmed that the Obama Administration-era Cole memo, which directed U.S. attorneys to consider local laws with regard to cannabis enforcement, is under review, according to a Politico report.
“We’re seeing real violence around that,” Sessions said to reporters at the Justice Department. “Experts are telling me there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think and there’s big money involved.”
Sessions added that people in legal states are “violating [the] limits” set forth by the laws dictating the legal industry, and the Justice Department would “look at it…and try to adopt responsible policies.”
“Most of you probably know I don’t think America is going to be a better place when more people of all ages and particularly young people start smoking pot,” Sessions said in the report. “I believe it’s an unhealthy practice and current levels of THC in marijuana are very high compared to what they were a few years ago.”
Sessions said that while states can pass any laws they choose “it does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not.”
The Attorney General’s comments come on the heels of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer saying he expected “greater enforcement” of federal cannabis laws. In response to Spicer’s remarks, officials in legal states – including Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, and Attorney Generals Bob Ferguson and Xavier Becerra, from Washington and California respectively – indicated that they would fight the federal government if they attempt to crackdown on the industry.
Erik Altieri, executive director for NORML, described Sessions’ comments as a “reality that only exists in the world of alternative facts.”
“Marijuana legalization has not lead to increased crime or violence, but rather is associated with lowered youth use rates and access, increased tax revenue, and fewer arrests of otherwise law abiding American citizens,” he wrote in a blog post. “The truth is that legalization is working as voters have intended and that the new US Attorney General’s opinions are reckless, irresponsible, and outright false.”