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Jeff Sessions’ Latest Drama Leaves Marijuana Up in the Air

2 minute Read

Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants all the remaining U.S. attorneys who served under the Obama administration to resign. The announcement came friday from the Department of Justice, and would mean that 46 U.S. attorneys get replaced.

“As was the case in prior transitions, many of the United States attorneys nominated by the previous administration already have left the Department of Justice,” said spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores. “The Attorney General has now asked the remaining 46 presidentially appointed U.S. attorneys to tender their resignations in order to ensure a uniform transition.” Until the dozens of new U.S. attorneys are confirmed, career prosecutors from the 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices around the country will oversee cases. Since the Reagan era, it’s been commonplace for the new administration to purge U.S. attorneys from the old.

But it’s unclear what this means for the cannabis industry.

Several of the current U.S. attorneys have threatened both businesses and lawmakers in green states. Most recently, for example, the Nevada U.S. attorney threatened to shut down the High Times Cannabis Cup that nonetheless took place earlier this month. However, a new staff of U.S. attorneys doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be better for the marijuana law reform movement — especially if they’re approved by Jeff Sessions.

The new attorney general has not been shy about his hostile attitudes toward cannabis. He’s threatened to crack down on states that legalized adult use marijuana and was critical of the Obama administration for not enforcing federal prohibition in green states. Most recently, however, Sessions has expressed doubts as to whether it’s actually possible to crack down on the cannabis industry.

“It’s not possible for the federal government, of course, to take over everything the local police used to do in a state that’s legalized it,” Sessions said in an interview with national talk radio host Hugh Hewitt. “And I’m not in favor of legalization of marijuana. I think it’s a more dangerous drug than a lot of people realize. I don’t think we’re going to be a better community if marijuana is sold in every corner grocery store.” (For the record, that doesn’t happen anywhere.)

When Hewitt pushed Sessions on how he would actually go about his crackdown, the attorney general admitted that the situation was ultimately too big to tackle in full.

“I think it’s a little more complicated than one RICO {Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act} case, I’ve got to tell you,” he said. “This, places like Colorado, it’s just sprung up a lot of different independent entities that are moving marijuana. And it’s also being moved interstate, not just in the home state.”

That said, with a new cast of Sessions-approved U.S. attorneys, he may have more help on the ground going after weed in individual states.

Moreover, prosecution of drug, including marijuana cases, could begin to look different than it has the past few years. In a recent memo, Sessions sent to prosecutors nationwide, he indicated coming revisions to drug charges. Whereas in 2013, Attorney General Eric Holder had said mandatory minimum sentences in drug cases didn’t have to be enforced, it looks like Sessions will go back on Holder’s memo.

All this taken into account, Sessions is also under fire for having lied to Congress about his communicating with a Russian ambassador. The ACLU has filed a complaint against him, though it’s too early to tell what the outcome of this will be — whether he’s investigated, disbarred, or so on. Nonetheless, if any of the above were to transpire, it would be challenging for Sessions to fulfill his duties as attorney general. What that means for the cannabis industry has yet to be determined.

Jeff Sessions’ Latest Drama Leaves Marijuana Up in the Air