Sessions is a longtime crusader against marijuana, a drug he has likened to heroin. "These principles require federal prosecutors deciding which cases to prosecute to weigh all relevant considerations of the crime, the deterrent effect of criminal prosecution, and the cumulative impact of particular crimes on the community".
That statement includes rescission of the Cole Memo, issued in 2013 and long regarded as providing a safe haven by cannabis entrepreneurs.
In this new memo, Sessions permits US attorneys to seriously enforce federal law - rescinding the Cole memo - in states where marijuana use is both illegal and legal.
James Dunn covers technology, biotech, law, the food industry, and banking and finance. And it said it won't speculate about federal decisions.
Congressional supporters want to expand that protection to cover nonmedical sale and use of marijuana by adults, now legal in eight states, including California, along with Washington, D.C. They plan to add that proposal to a spending bill that is needed by January 19 to keep the government operating, and said Sessions may have unintentionally helped their cause.
Sessions' shift at the Justice Department comes days after marijuana became officially legal under laws in California, the largest state.
Sara Lessar, owner of the hemp farm Oregon CO2 in Coos County is uncertain what this new memo might do to the marijuana industry, but she's looking at it positively.
Federal prosecutors are not elected, but they often have long histories working in their districts.
Obama-era guidance gave low priority to prosecutions of medical marijuana dispensing under state law. "California voters chose to legalize adult use of cannabis in 2016". While Sessions' memo does not outline specific policy changes in terms of whether the feds will now go after people in legalization states, it certainly encourages federal prosecutors to do so.
Troyer says his office has always focused on prosecuting marijuana crimes that "create the greatest safety threats" and will continue to be guided by that goal.
Former Republican Maryland state delegate Don Murphy, who now works in conservative outreach for the Marijuana Policy Project, said the AG's move, presumably sanctioned by Trump, is odd considering the populist wave in favor of decriminalizing marijuana across the country-not only in blue states, but places like Arkansas, the first Bible Belt state to legalize medical marijuana, and with 53 percent of the vote.
President Donald Trump, when asked about marijuana legalization on the campaign trail, said the issue would be left up to the states.
Q: Can congress reverse Sessions' action - and would lawmakers be inclined to do so? Colorado Senator Cory Gardner stated shock at the decision, as it would apparently contradict private assurances received from Mr. Sessions before his appointment.
Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden from OR, where marijuana is also legal, similarly blasted the move.
Today, 29 states have some sort of law allowing for at the very least, medical marijuana. Colorado has a new statewide plant-count limit (the cap of twelve applies to everyone including medical patients, unless they receive a plant-count extension from the state), but it falls to local and state law enforcement officials to enforce that.
"What Jeff Sessions wants to do is roll back all of that. Once again the Trump administration is doubling down on protecting states' rights only when they believe the state is right", Wyden said in a statement.
Sessions' new memo does not explicitly set forth how prosecutors should treat medical marijuana, though a senior Justice official explained that prosecutors wouldn't do anything contrary to any current federal law.