Feinstein, facing primary, backs legal weed in California

Feinstein, facing primary, backs legal weed in California
© Greg Nash

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSanders revokes congressional endorsement for Young Turks founder Cenk Uygur Sanders endorses Young Turks founder Cenk Uygur for Katie Hill's former House seat Houston police chief stands by criticism of McConnell, Cruz, Cornyn: 'This is not political' MORE (D-Calif.) said Tuesday that she is open to extending federal protections for states that have legalized recreational marijuana. 

"Federal law enforcement agents should not arrest Californians who are adhering to California law," Feinstein told McClatchy

Feinstein, a longtime opponent of legalizing marijuana, also said that while California has approved the recreational use of the substance, the state needed to "ensure we have strong safety rules to prevent impaired driving and youth access, similar to other public health issues like alcohol."

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She said she "strongly supports" the legalization of medical marijuana, according to McClatchy. 

Feinstein's latest comments on marijuana legalization come as she faces a primary challenge by California Democratic state Sen. Kevin de León.

De León has not campaigned as a champion for legal weed, but has not opposed it either, and many liberal Democrats have coalesced around his candidacy.

Feinstein's office told McClatchy that the U.S. senator's views on marijuana legalization changed after she met with constituents, who voiced having a positive experience with medical marijuana.

Nine states and the District of Columbia have moved to legalize recreational marijuana use, and dozens of states have legalized medical marijuana. But the substance remains federally prohibited.

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsLisa Page sues DOJ, FBI over alleged privacy violations Sessions leads GOP Senate primary field in Alabama, internal poll shows Trump rebukes FBI chief Wray over inspector general's Russia inquiry MORE in January rescinded an Obama-era policy that paved the way for states to legalize recreational marijuana without federal interference.