By Phillip Smith
Even as he defended federal marijuana prohibition, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions last Thursday conceded that states have the right to pass their own marijuana laws.
Sessions, an avowed foe of marijuana legalization, has moved to rescind Obama-era guidance to prosecutors that gave some protection to state-legal marijuana operations, but the reality on the ground is that even when given a green light by the Justice Department to go after state-legal marijuana, federal prosecutors in those states are largely leaving it alone.
Sessions has also been left isolated by President Trump, who has signaled support for legislation that would end federal marijuana prohibition.
Last Thursday, Sessions was in Massachusetts, where voters in 2016 approved marijuana legalization and where sales in pot shops are expected to begin sometime this year. A reporter asked Sessions about his stance on legalization.
“We’ll enforce the federal law; the federal law remains the law of the land,” he replied. “Personally, my view is that the American republic will not be better if there are marijuana sales on every street corner, but states have a right to set their own laws and will do so, and we will follow the federal law,” he said.
After the press conference, a Department of Justice spokesperson told MassLive.com the comments did not represent a shift for Sessions. This is true: Sessions remains committed to federal marijuana prohibition, but he can’t seem to get his US attorneys in states where marijuana is legal to do anything about it. And now, he’s at least admitting that states have the right to craft their own pot laws.
Here’s the video: