Thanks to Jeff Sessions' staunch stance on weed, attorneys now have permission to prosecute people for buying, selling, and using weed throughout the whole country—even in states where it's legal. He just reversed an Obama-era policy that prevented the feds from coming after legal marijuana unless it's being sold to minors, brought across state borders, grown on federal land, or sold in some manner involving gangs or organized crime, NBC reports.
Sessions' policy doesn't tell federal prosecutors how to treat cases involving marijuana, but it allows them to enforce federal law—which prohibits growing, buying, and using marijuana—as strictly as they want. "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," he wrote in a memo to federal prosecutors, according to the Associated Press.
Just days after recreational weed became legal in California, it's now unclear what the consequences could be for selling or using it there, in the six other states where recreational weed is legal, or in the 28 states that allow medical marijuana. The law prohibits interfering with medical marijuana, but Justice Department officials told the AP that while they'd follow the law, they wouldn't rule out prosecuting people over medical marijuana.
Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner threatened to hold up Sessions' Justice Department nominees if he doesn't change the policy, tweeting, "the Justice Department has trampled on the will of the voters in CO and other states."
Sessions "wants to maintain a system that has led to tremendous injustice... and that has wasted federal resources on a huge scale," Maria McFarland Sanchez-Moreno, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, told the AP. "If Sessions thinks that makes sense in terms of prosecutorial priorities, he is in a very bizarre ideological state, or a deeply problematic one."