Back in July, Attorney General Jeff Sessions directed the Justice Department to review an Obama-era rule that effectively protected people in states with legalized pot from federal prosecution. Since announcing his intended crackdown, Sessions has yet to institute any dramatic shift from the status quo…but that doesn’t mean he isn’t planning on it.
On Thursday, Sessions appeared on the conservative talk show hosted by Hugh Hewitt to chat about freedom of speech and religion. Their conversation, however shifted to pot — a drug Sessions seems to think is very dangerous and one that is definitely still illegal under federal law.
“I do not believe there is any argument that because a state legalizes marijuana that the federal law against marijuana is no longer in existence,” Sessions told Hewitt. “I do believe that the federal laws clearly are in effect in all 50 states. And we will do our best to enforce the laws as we’re required to do so.”
What might enforcing those laws look like, though? Sessions declined to comment after Hewitt suggested the Justice Department prosecute growers under federal racketeering laws. One case, Hewitt contended, would shut the whole dope shindig down.
“I don’t know that one prosecution would be quite as effective as that,” Sessions contested. Later, when pressed on whether he planned to follow through with a renewed war on drugs, Sessions remained mum. “I can’t comment on the existence of an investigation at this time,” he said. “But I hear you. You’re making a suggestion. I hear it.”
For a brief moment this all sounds minutely comforting, but then I’m reminded of the time Sessions said Klansmen were “OK” until he “learned they smoked pot.” Sessions isn’t the only fed hoping to repeal the memo curtailing pot prosecutions — his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, also agrees.
“We are reviewing that policy. We haven’t changed it, but we are reviewing it,” Rosenstein said during an appearance at the conservative Heritage Foundation in September. “We’re looking at the states that have legalized or decriminalized marijuana, trying to evaluate what the impact is. And I think there is some pretty significant evidence that marijuana turns out to be more harmful than a lot of people anticipated.”
Meanwhile, 64% of Americans think that recreational weed should be legal, according to a newly released Gallup poll. Even a majority of Republicans, for the first time ever, support legalization.