Attorney General Jeff Sessions To Crackdown On State-Legal Marijuana

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has rescinded the Department of Justice’s hands-off policy towards state-legal marijuana.


“By rescinding the Cole Memo, Jeff Sessions is acting on his warped desire to return America to the failed beliefs of the ‘Just Say No’ and Reefer Madness eras. This action flies in the face of sensible public policy and broad public opinion. The American people overwhelmingly support the legalization of marijuana and oppose federal intervention in state marijuana laws by an even wider margin. This move by the Attorney General will prove not just to be a disaster from a policy perspective, but from a political one. The American people will not just sit idly by while he upends all the progress that has been made in dialing back the mass incarceration fueled by marijuana arrests and destabilizes an industry that is now responsible for over 150,000 jobs. Ending our disgraceful war on marijuana is the will of the people and the Trump Administration can expect severe backlash for opposing it,” said Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director.

The Cole Memo, a Justice Department memorandum, authored by former US Deputy Attorney General James Cole in 2013 to US attorneys in all 50 states, directs prosecutors not to interfere with state legalization efforts and those licensed to engage in the plant’s production and sale, provided that such persons do not engage in marijuana sales to minors or divert the product to states that have not legalized its use, among other guidelines.

During a Q and A with reporters in Richmond, VA in March of 2017, Jeff Sessions said, “The Cole Memorandum set up some policies under President Obama’s Department of Justice about how cases should be selected in those states and what would be appropriate for federal prosecution, much of which I think is valid,”

Additionally in 2017, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) and Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) issued a letter to the new U.S. Attorney General and to Secretary of Treasury Mnuchin calling on them to uphold the largely ‘hands off’ policies toward marijuana legalization, as outlined in the Cole Memo. “Overhauling the Cole Memo is sure to produce unintended and harmful consequences,” the governors wrote. “Changes that hurt the regulated market would divert existing marijuana product into the black market and increase dangerous activity in both our states and our neighboring states.”

Currently, medical marijuana protections are still in effect, known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment. Since 2014, members of Congress have passed annual spending bills that have included a provision protecting those who engage in the state-sanctioned use and dispensing of medical cannabis from undue prosecution by the Department of Justice. The amendment, known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment, maintains that federal funds cannot be used to prevent states from “implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

“At a time when the majority of states now are regulating marijuana use in some form, and when nearly two-thirds of voters endorse legalizing the plant’s use by adults, it makes no sense from a political, fiscal, or moral perspective for Attorney General Sessions to take this step” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. “It is time that members of Congress take action to comport federal law with majority public opinion and to end the needless criminalization of marijuana — a policy failure that encroaches upon civil liberties, engenders disrespect for the law, and disproportionately impacts communities of color.”

“If the Trump administration goes through with a crackdown on states that have legalized marijuana, they will be taking billions of dollars away from regulated, state-sanctioned businesses and putting that money back into the hands of drug cartels,” Strekal concluded.

224 thoughts

  1. How come the GOP is so inconsistent? They constantly rely on the State’s Rights Argument from the old pre-Civil War south to try and kill Federalism everywhere on almost every critical issue important to the American people, yet on MMJ they want to take away the States’ voice.

  2. FUCK everyone who voted for this asshole in chief. I’ll hold all of you responsible when crime and drug use go up, and when they’ve decimated every last green space on this planet. Fuck Trump, fuck his followers and fuck everyone who voted for him.

  3. Even if sessions really wanted to do this, congress needs to approve, which they won’t. The backlash will be horrendous. What’s hilarious is we are in a current opiod/opiate epidemic, not a marijuana crisis ( the only crisis is, is that it’s still illegal under fed law).
    I hope he gets so terminally ill some day that only Cannabis can help him.
    This may even push congress to vote Cannabis out of the schedule 1 category. The best everyone can do is vote Democrat for the rest of your lives. Republicans are liars and will say anything to get elected because this is the kind of shit they do when they get in.

    1. Yeah, I know Matt. It’s fucked up, but read this and feel better;

      Highlights I’ve mentioned on previous posts… US attorneys unphased, FINCEN still in place and Senator Gardner R-CO threatening to refuse anymore Trump nominations.

      We’re really hinging on the House renewing the Rohrabacher Blumenauer amendment.

      As for “REALLY” Dems… let me try and explain:
      There is method to the Democrats madness. Under rules written during the Clinton impeachment only the Deputy attorney general can fire Mueller. And Sessions can’t fire Rosenstein so long as he recuses himself from the Russia investigation. Sessions doesnt seem to mind perjury on his promises over the Cole memos or how many Russians he’s met but firing Rosenstein is much more likely to get Sessions indicted than Trump… at least more quickly anyway. He failed to notify a federal judge or a military authority in the presence of felony money laundering with a hostile foreign power. (+ Kushner, etc.)

      And sure, Trump is desperate for an excuse to fire Sessions that doesn’t look like obstruction of justice. Perhaps Sessions gave him one, but here’s the deal; Trump had to sign this last order rescinding the Cole memos. He’s still as dumb as a box of rocks. Always will be. But Sessions is not. He’s consciously evil. Firing Rosenstein directly would be obstruction to any Federal Judge and enough Congressman which would potentially allow an indictment for misprision of felony. And funny thing; obstruction is not the worst of charges the President is facing.

      I think Democrats smell blood. They know once Pence gets thrown under the bus for misprision of felony and Dems take Congress next year Pelosi could be our next President.

    2. I am so fucking through with Schumer and Pelosi, and all their “friends across the aisle” bullshit. They are hurting Americans nearly as much as the GOP.

      1. As you can see from my analysis above, Bud, its because they have their own agenda. I dont like these money-grubbing schmucks either… I’d love to see Pelosi get replaced by someone more progressive that refuses PAC money. But in these fateful times for whats left of our Democratic Republic I can admit there are more important things than even an agenda like marijuana policy, which affects every topic Americans care about. And that one important thing is getting Trump and Pence out of the White House with a Democratically controlled Speaker of the House.

        But no worries, were going to continue on our bipartisan agenda to legalize marijuana right through the chaos. Hell, perhaps because of the chaos…

      2. I agree with that Julian. I’m just frustrated with them. Still, I will definitely celebrate the day they are both replaced with a real progressive. (I’ve let my two NM Senators know too, that my patience with centrist policies is wearing thin.)

    3. A follow up and correction;

      Senator Gardner said he would hold up DOJ nominations, (not all Trump nominations) until Sessions restores the Cole memo. Don’t ask me if that’s good or bad for Russia gate but it’s good for putting pressure on Congress to legalize marijuana.

      Meanwhile the Vermont House just legalized mj legislatively, the Senate is expected to do the same next week, and the Republican Governor is talking about signing it.

      That means even if a US Attorney dares to take action or file an injunction under the Supremacy Clause in a Federal Court in Vermont it will be too late. The Barbuto v. Sales and Marketing case has already thrown out the Supremacy Clause for Massachusetts which is declaring it will open it’s legal mj market anyway.

      Spark it up Vermont. The timing is impeccable.

  4. Better Molon Labe this not snowflake it.
    One of the main reasons the second was created was for this kind of overstep!

    1. No it wasn’t. The NRA was never there for us with or without their twisted interpretation of the 2nd amendment. And where are they now? Stop inciting pointless violence and tap on the Act tab.

      1. @ Julian I did so don’t worry about that. But yes it was try reading up on what our forefathers said when it comes to Tyranny.
        You know as well as I di that Fat Crispy Crème Christy and Sessions will roll in on tanks if they can, and if all you do is roll over and play court it’s over and you know it.
        I care less what the NRA did or didn’t do I support what I support weather it’s left, right or middle. not advocating violence, but you know they will do violence to people if they can get away with it.

      2. Glad you clicked on the ACT tab and hope you continue to do so. Just lettin you know you have mire rights under our current lobby of government claiming 1st amendment free speech to shoot the FEDS at the door than you do hoping the 2nd amendment will protect you. It was only interpreted to “individual right to bear arms” so the NRA could help the Arms manufacturers and the DOJ sell more guns. The original meaning was always intended to support “militias” against “tyranny,” which was only written so slaveholders could form militias to capture escaped slaves so Virginia would join the Union. I wish I was making this stuff up.

    2. CSA AP Hill, the problem with your interpretation of the 2nd Amendment is that it is based on NRA fantasies. The 2nd Amendment was written in 1791–while George Washington was president. Congress did not write an amendment that year because it was worried about Washington or future presidents becoming tyrannical, but instead as further buttress against the “mother” country of England, from whom we had recently won our independence.

      The 2nd Amendment is saying that our ability to form MILITIAS is enabled by our RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS, period! We needed to be able to form militias in case England tried to reclaim us. The 2nd Amend had little to do with domestic abuses, as the NRA advocates love to claim, but instead with FOREIGN abuses. Reread it. Look at the year it was enacted. We’d just won our independence from England–and that was the motivation behind that amendment–period!

      1. Wrong! Were all the militia and it was created to give us a tool incase Govt became tyrannical. Your interpretation is wrong it wasn’t just for them it’s for us now.
        “Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed, as they are in almost every country in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot
        enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops.”
        – Noah Webster, An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution, October 10, 1787
        “Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation,
        the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier
        against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of.”
        – James Madison, Federalist No. 46, January 29, 1788
        What I was saying was if Fat ass Crspy Crème Christy with his elf little man Sessions decides to roll in with tanks or DEA agents, which we all know they might do it would be our right to defend against them!

      2. csaaphill,

        I will defer to you on your point, as your Madison and Webster quotes do make that plain. My beef has to do with the all the military-level weapons that are flooding our country. The sentiment about countering an overreaching govt can’t be questioned. The manner in which it is today being carried out, pushed by the NRA, is obviously flawed, as proven by the semi-regular gun slaughters we are now enduring. There HAS to be sane gun control, notwithstanding the aforementioned quotes. The shooters in Las Vegas and elsewhere, and the sometimes huge size of their arsenals illustrate this.

        While it is true that militia-type armies have helped topple tyrannical govts in the past, those “revolutions” really succeed when the army itself turns against the govt. Several notable revolutions in the not-so-distant past succeeded without a 2nd Amen.

  5. This won’t do anything. It’s just gonna blow back in his face. The legal and illegal marijuana industry is bigger than sessions and the DEA. Best case scenario sessions is booted out of office or his attempts are denied.

    What if sessions tries to crackdown and dispensaries and growers arm themselves and don’t take any shit from any government interference, bonus if the states back them up. Didn’t a state AG say they would take legal action if sessions went after legal marijuana?

    The trend has been moving steadily towards legalization, it keeps gaining momentum and this won’t stop it. In this day and age with the internet and social media it’s a lot hard for the government to spread lies to the public.

    I just wish some of the people who support it would put in effort to talk and act a little more respectable, that would speed it up. I mean look at some comments on here nobody can even speak English.

  6. I think just about all of us can remember Republicans spouting off at the mouth about how they’re all for state’s rights and now this. The hypocrisy would be laughable, only it’s no laughing matter. Disgusting and despicable.

  7. Quit blaming Trump and Sessions and learn some basic fucking civics. We have the legislative branch for a reason. It’s congress that needs to get their asses together and propose legislation to decriminalize and deschedule it and allow the states to implement their own laws without interference from an overarching authoritarian government. Obama abused his executive branch powers to bid HIS will. That’s not how this government was designed to work. Presidents don’t make laws!! Americans are too damn lazy to get involved in their local governments and vote people in who will support their needs. You want the government to stay out of your lives EXCEPT when it benefits you. Well guess what we have 3 branches of government so either follow the fucking process or move to a dictatorship. We should be rioting against the lawmakers, not the ones elected to enforce the laws! We’re completely ass backwards…

    1. Hmm. Interesting Dom. Allow me to unpack what you just said to yourself;

      “Quit blaming Sessions and Trump,”

      For what? Breaking every promise they ever made officially in statement or under oath? Certainly you understand what perjury is? Or treason?

      “Learn some basic fucking civics.”

      Yes, I believe thats what all the sexual allegations charges are about.

    2. I agree with you that Congress needs to deschedule marijuana and that it was Congress that started thus mess with the Controlled Substances Act… with the dishonorable mention that it was President Nixon’s aids that wrote the CSAct…

      But “Presidents dont make laws” and “Obama abused his executive branch powers to HIS will…”

      Do you have any idea how foolish you are? The Cole Memos clearly enjoyed a vast majority of support frim Americans under a Congress and Court system that refused to do their job… precisely why Presidents were given executive authority.

      Nixon used executive authority to secretly create executive priviledge for the President to avoid prosecution under the CSAct… a bad order that every president used since including Obama during the Fast & Furious scandal. Why not use THAT as an executive overreach example? Why pick on the Cole memo?

      And don’t get me started on Trump’s self-interested, racist, assinine executive orders, that are so far out of synch with the majority of the American public, the interests of national security and basic human dignity he’s had them shot down in Federal Court. (Say, that never happened to the Cole memos, did it?)

      The ONLY thing we can agree on is that this aggregious, selfish order by Trump and Sessions to rescind the Cole memorandum will catylize us “lazy” Americans and Congress to reform marijuana law.

      But don’t pretend that Obama abused the law by signing the 2012 Cole memos while a Republican Congress stood idly by or while Trump creates executive orders to suppress our votes, ban religions from travel, and sell our liberty to Russia and China. Otherwise you might need to “learn some basic fucking civics…” and I’m not just talking about the fucking.

    3. I’ve been in the cannabis community for a hell of a long time, and I can tell you that the legislative branch does not always justify the reason for its existence as you espouse. In other words, the legislative branch does NOT do right by people. That’s why it took activism and civil disobedience and people just taking the decision themselves that they’re going to be free and exercise their freedom. You have that with the Civil Rights Act, and then racists like Trump and Sessions say and pull shit that indicated the country has NOT made as much progress in race relations as we wanted to. Obama did NOT abuse his power. Obama’s cannabis policies called off the federal dawgz enough to give Power to the People! Simplistic textbook arguments sound great on paper but take centuries to become reality, as people of color know, and then still you’re still often a target of selective or overenforcement.

  8. Folks, there could be a silver lining in all this. I’m hopeful that finally our Congress will get off their butts and do something to get cannabis off the CSA and take this issue completely out of Sessions hands.

  9. Think about this. What if this galvanizes the legal states into action and they fight for their rights and really organize and tell the fed to go away. They can not lose. The Feds also need the local cops to help them with this. they won’t. We are at a breakthrough here and this could shut down Sessions so bad the legalization bandwagon will GAIN from this. Session KNOWS he can’t win. I’m for Trump. But Sessions is a wimp bully. He is not in touch with what’s what in our new world. His wimpy action on Russian/Trump and Crooked Hillary prove he’s a loser. He will not survive the year.
    Everyone should vote for a conventionof the states. We will force the fed to balance the budget, and hopefully end prohibition of weed.

    1. @ John O.
      You are so full of shit. Trump does not get a pass on this. Trump owns this, and the goddamn Republicans own this.

      Trump knew Sessions was a fuckwad when he appointed him, and Trump voters knew Trump was a fuckwad when they voted for him.

      So fuck you.

  10. Easy folks i stand with legalization but lets be real it is a crime under fedral law so we blame a man who is doing his job how we fix this changing the law doo i disagrere withb him hell yeah i do but honestly it is a law

      1. Easy, Sean, she’s right. Because Sessions is a fascist taints all of his actions, I’ll agree with you that much, but he is doing his job, however poorly in priority that might be. But be careful calling her a fascist… thats the kind of chaotic infighting that prohibitionists are counting on. This is just another losing move on the chess board where prohibition has a limited number of moves left to play. Were not going to win by sacrificing our pawns here, look at the endgame: Congress is exposed and vulnerable.

      2. Point taken Julian. It just sounded like another rationalization for Sessions and Trump.

      3. @ Sean,
        I’m with you on this one. Session is not doing his job at all –Christ, he perjured himself over his Russian contacts during his own confirmation hearings, for fucks sake! He’s a fascist Russian collaborator and a traitor.

    1. @ Jeremiah R,
      Getting rid of Sessions without getting rid of Trump won’t help. Sessions is just one of Trump’s many turds; and he’ll just shit out another one, just like the other one.

      No. The blame for this belongs to Trump and his Republican lickspittles. And they are the ones we intend to punish on Election Day!

  11. Along with Leafly’s ongoing coverage, this article from Phillip Smith at Alternet has some of the best analysis of the Sessions situation I’ve read yet;

    The synopsis is that this move is pushing us and Congress not only to renew the Rohrabacher-Blumemauer amendment but to come up with similar appropriations language to protect recreational marijuana markets as well.

    The DEA only has 4000 agents world wide: about 10,000 Californians for every agent. Good luck with that.

    Smith goes on to point out the Federal government cannot force states to recriminalize marijuana. He mentions the “fierce” response from advocates and Congress and Trump’s broken promise. (After all, Trump had to sign this memo).

    The real threat Smith says is how Sessions could “file a permanent injuction” to close dispensaries. The reference he used is here:
    Essentially, a federal prosecutor or US attorney subpeona’s applications for dispensaries and submits them to a judge saying “willfully commiting a felony, your honor” and the Judge slaps contempt and closes dispensaries.
    Here’s where I beg to differ on his confidence that any Federal Judge would grant that.

    Our biggest argument is that action would create and empower the black market. Republicans understand they cant sound tough on crime by CREATING CRIME.

    Another important fact that occurred since that February analysis is the Barbuto Sales & Marketing case that threw out the supremacy clause in Mass. in defense of patient’s rights and the 5th amendment. We already have open cases against Sessions like Washington v. Sessions with patients like Alexis Bortell who depend on legal dispensaries. Sessions would be shooting himself the foot. Again.

    1. These are good points, regarding judges’ potential decisions to slap dispensaries with contempt, and the GOP’s understanding that one can’t curtail crime by creating it. (Nice research btw.) I hope you’re right on that, J.

  12. It appears obvious to me that Trump & Sessions are both getting paid off by Big Pharma. Money is more important to most government officials than the people. Always has been and always will be.

  13. The Hair Drumpf apologists are really coming out of the woodwork on this thread. If you defend Trump and Sessions, you are no friend of cannabis freedom. You never were.

  14. Originally reported by the NYTimes, reporting reveals Sessions was pushing bad press to get Comey fired as FBI director AFTER he recused himself from the Russia investigation:

    Oh, Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions, you naughtly ol opossum! You might plead the 5th on how many Russians you saw or promising not to void the Cole memorandum… all that does is energize marijuana activists.

    But both opposum paws in the Russia perjury?

    Trump is hoping to use the heat on Sessions to get Congress to fire him so he can fire Deputy AG Rosenstein. “Sad.”


    “Why Jeff Sessions’ Marijuana Crackdown is Going to Make Legalization More Likely.”

    Trump can’t distance himself from Sessions, his recusal perjury or owning marijuana prohibition and Sessions cant distance himself from Trump and the Russia treason.

    Awww… so sweet; they deserve eachother don’t they?

    1. Great article by Paul Waldman of the Washington Post, who points out that the American People don’t want to go back to the bad old days of Reefer Madness, and who will see this as just one more reason on Election Day to punish all Republicans, everywhere, for inflicting Trump upon us.

      I agree wholeheartedly. It’s gonna be “payday” for Trump and his sickfuck Republican supporters, but not the kind he wanted!

  16. The drug lords in Mexico are cheering this on – time to ramp up production south of the border…

    1. @ ha ha,
      I’m wondering: did a poorly designed spellcheck feature erroneously alter your comment?

      Sessions challenge the “bullies?” That can’t be right.

      Surely you meant to say, Sessions is challenging the “basic standards for human decency?”

      Or maybe, Sessions is challenging the “black community?”

      Or, maybe, challenging the “belief that everyone has some part of them that is good inside, somewhere?”

      On the other hand, maybe you’re just another racist nutjob.

      Yeah, that’s gotta be it!

  17. Regarding Trump’s stance on marijuana, as a native NYer I can tell you he HATES pot. I remember him saying so in the early 90’s. That’s why he tapped Jeff Sessions for AG; to get him to do his dirty work, which Sessions had no problem with.

    Trump knows some of his base are pot-smokers. During his campaign when Trump announced “We’ll leave it up to the States” he knew he would only appoint an AG who was an anti-pot staunch opponent because Trump didn’t want it legalized for recreational anywhere (only for medical). So he was playing it safe and neutral. This neutral “leave it up to the States” stance meant not losing any voters on either side of the issue.

    Trump was sneaky in how he played both sides, the pro-legalization and the anti crowd, not too mention his stupid, clueless base who can’t see they’ve been deceived all along. Trump knew this was coming and fully supports it.

    BTW, Chris Christie is also behind a lot of this. He worked closely with Sessions to make this happen. he is angry that Phil Murphy, who will be NJ’s new governor in two weeks, is going to legalize weed in NJ. Chris Christie is just as dangerous as Sessions. He just doesn’t have any power now that his term is almost up and is career is pretty much over.

    I was all over the boards as soon as Jeff Sessions was sworn in, including MassLive, as I now live in MA, warning people of this but no one believed me. They said the AG couldn’t do this and I told them he will. Watch and see.

    1. We shoulda made the midwest live in NY and put up with Trump’s bull$#!+ for just a few days to see what he is; the kind of low-life shmuck who would sell you the rotten meat that fell out of the back of a truck!

  18. All of you who think pot is some type of medicine are the same fucking idiots who believe in global warming. What you people don’t understand is that as soon as the law is not regulating illegal drug activities then the people will take matters into there own hands and those people who oppose this shit are the same people who made this country what it is, and they will win the fight. Trust me look back at history they always do.

    1. @ Anonymous,
      Ooooh! Thanks for trying to clarify that, you crazy wackadoodle! You failed! Now try saying something that actually makes sense!

  19. Typical GOP Alabama redneck asshole; he supports a known pedophile running for senate but pisses all over himself when it comes to marijuana legalization. It makes me wonder how much money was put into their campaign funds by the alcohol industry and anti-depressant pill companies. As a law officer in a non-progressive state I would enjoy the total legalization of pot.

    1. @ John Byron,
      This is as good a time as any to plug L.E.A.P. (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.)

      Not all cops are bad, am I right?

  20. How does someone so out of touch with reality be against drug that makes reality tolerable, when I first saw him after not my president Donald Duck Trumps appointment I thought he was Mickey Mouse on blotter acid with his picture on it . Then I understood his ignorance because a good ole boy from Alabama. Never Been there but don’t even want to be snd never been east of okc Oklahoma . The west is best f**k all the rest.Proud native of the greatest pot smokers town in America , Boulder Colorado . Also spent 15 years on west coast in Oregon and Southern California. If it weren’t for sll the peaple would have stayed in San Diego. Stuck in Shit hole Oklahoma but miss progressive liberal Colorado , California , And Rainy but o so green Oregon

  21. Not Endorsing the use of LSD, something I haven’t doon since Marines 1982 , the one drug they didn’t test for at the tome drug testing just started in all ranks and branches of military . Jeffy just acts loke he is on a permanent flashback

Leave a Reply