Politico-Sessions Reassures Senators: No Crackdown Imminent


Worries about a shift in federal enforcement in states that have legalized recreational use may be overblown.

The Trump administration is causing serious paranoia among marijuana advocates with its hints of a federal crackdown on recreational use. But Attorney General Jeff Sessions has privately reassured some Republican senators that he won’t deviate from an Obama-era policy of allowing states to implement their own marijuana laws.

Sessions has rattled both libertarians and liberals in ordering a review of the hands-off pot policy under President Barack Obama. But Sessions provided some private assurances to senators before he was confirmed that he was not considering a major shift in enforcement, despite his opposition to the use of marijuana.

“He told me he would have some respect for states’ right on these things. And so I’ll be very unhappy if the federal government decides to go into Colorado and Washington and all of these places. And that’s not the [what] my interpretation of my conversation with him was. That this wasn’t his intention,” said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). in an interview.

And since he was confirmed, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) said administration officials have left him with the impression there is no big policy change coming.

“Nothing at this point has changed,” Gardner said.

But a large group of bipartisan senators aren’t taking any chances. They sent a letter on on Thursday urging Sessions to uphold the Obama-era policy of allowing states to implement their recreational marijuana laws, after the Trump administration has indicated it could crack down on marijuana.

The effort is led by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who hail from states that have legalized marijuana. Press secretary Sean Spicer has hinted at “greater enforcement” of federal laws treating marijuana as an illegal drug. Sessions said this week that he is “dubious about marijuana” and is reviewing current policy.

But senators are beginning to push back.

“We respectfully request that you uphold DOJ’s existing policy regarding states that have implemented strong and effective regulations for recreational use,” the senators wrote to Sessions. “It is critical that states continue to implement these laws.”

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