DOJ: Rolling back Obama-era marijuana rules a 'return to the rule of law'

DOJ: Rolling back Obama-era marijuana rules a 'return to the rule of law'
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The Justice Department called Thursday’s move to rescind Obama-era guidance that allowed legal marijuana to thrive in certain states a “return to the rule of law.”

“This return to the rule of law is also a return of trust and local control to federal prosecutors who know where and how to deploy Justice Department resources most effectively to reduce violent crime, stem the tide of the drug crisis, and dismantle criminal gangs,” a statement from the department reads.

In the release, Sessions said that the previous guidance “undermines the rule of law and the ability of … law enforcement” to enforce the nation’s laws.


It was reported Thursday morning that Sessions would roll back the Obama-era policy, a significant move toward cracking down on marijuana legalization, of which he has long been a vocal opponent.

The so-called Cole memo, which was implemented under former President Obama, protected states where marijuana had been legalized by instructing federal attorneys not to prioritize prosecuting marijuana cases in those states.

Currently, six states have legalized marijuana for recreational use, after California began allowing it on Jan. 1. Two more states are expected to legalize it next year.

In the Thursday memo, Sessions directs U.S. attorneys to enforce the 1970 Controlled Substances Act and rescinds the Cole memo. 

“Today's memo on federal marijuana enforcement simply directs all U.S. Attorneys to use previously established prosecutorial  principles that provide them all the necessary tools to disrupt criminal organizations, tackle the growing drug crisis, and thwart violent crime across our country,” Sessions said in the release.