Attorney General Nominee Comments On Conflict Between State/Federal Marijuana Laws

Washington, DC: United States Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions responded to questions on Tuesday with regard to how he believes the Justice Department ought to respond to states that have legalized the use of marijuana.

While testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Sessions indicated that the agency’s future actions will be largely determined by federal priorities and resources. Notably, he called the federal priorities outlined in the 2013 Cole memorandum to be “truly valuable in evaluating cases” worthy of federal intervention, and did not overtly indicate that the incoming administration would take action to rescind those guidelines.

The Senator also acknowledged that marijuana remains federally classified as an illicit substance and that it is the responsibility of Congress, not the Justice Department, to amend federal laws. “One obvious concern is the United States Congress has made the possession in every state and distribution an illegal act,” he said. “If that’s something that’s not desired any longer Congress should pass a law to change the rule. It is not the Attorney General’s job to decide what laws to enforce.”

For more information, please contact Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500.