Sessions to Senators: Expect No Major Shift on Obama-Era Pot Policy | Marijuana

Sessions to Senators: Expect No Major Shift on Obama-Era Pot Policy


In Washington D.C., trepidation and bewilderment have been the new norm for policymakers representing states that have reformed their marijuana laws. Appalled the new Trump administration could attempt to roll back their voter-approved reforms, more than a few senators have reached out to the new Attorney General seeking clarification from the Department of Justice (DOJ).

After privately confirming to Sen. Rand Paul that Sessions would “have some respect for states’ right[s],” and leaving Sen. Cory Gardner with the distinct impression that “nothing at this point has changed,” a DOJ spokesperson confirmed the Jeff Sessions era would adhere to the past administration’s policy, according to

“The department’s current policy is reflected in the 2013 Cole Memo.”

Urging Sessions to maintain the DOJ’s current policy, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren fired off a letter to the new AG on Thursday. Signed by nine other senators, the apprehensive group of bipartisan legislators requested AG Sessions maintain the Obama administration’s hands-off policy.

We write to express our concern regarding recent remarks by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer suggesting the Department of Justice (DOJ) may begin enforcement against states that have legalized marijuana, and ask that you clarify DOJ’s policy regarding state marijuana laws. To date, eight states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington) and the District of Columbia have passed laws allowing for the recreational use of marijuana, 28 states have medical marijuana laws, and 21 states have decriminalized the use o f marijuana. These voter-approved laws have been evaluated by Governors and state Attorneys General, rigorously debated by state legislatures and the communities they serve, and implemented through thoughtful processes to ensure the proper regulated production and sale of marijuana.”

In hopes of encouraging the DOJ to continue its Obama-era policy, the following 11 senators spoke up for their constituents and the 10th amendment: Colorado Sen. Michael F. Bennet, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz, Massachusetts Sen. Edward Markey, Washington State Sen. Maria Cantwell, Oregon Sen. Jeffrey Merkley, Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, Washington State Sen. Patty Murray, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Poised to protect their constituents, Warren and Murkowski concluded in the letter “It is essential that states that have implemented any type of practical, effective marijuana policy receive immediate assurance from the DOJ that it will respect the ability of states to enforce thoughtful, sensible drug policies in ways that do not threaten the public’s health and safety.”

Finger crossed, A.G. Sessions and the new administration will respect states’ rights and the will of the voters.

Photo courtesy of Allie Beckett

About Author

My name is Monterey Bud and I was born in Long Beach and raised on the central coast. I surf, dab, burn and write. I'm a husband, a father and a lifelong consumer of connoisseur grade weed. I have been writing about marijuana strains, science, and politics for since 2012. A Big Sur cultivator from the pre-helicopter days, I'm a big fan of new strains and breaking news. I can be reached on Twitter @MontereyBud


  1. We Must consider the statement ” The departments current policy is reflected in the 2013 Cole memo” is just what it says. That it is “current ” policy, and therefore may or could change in the future. Because the restriction on spending money to prosecute is still in effect until April, the Dept. of Justice must wait until then to make any change. I think their statement is week at best and may be an effort to mislead.

    • @Ron – I, unfortunately, totally agree. And, this is why it’s of critical importance that voters contact their Congressional representatives in support of HR 1227 – the “Ending Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017.” A long shot in the world of gambling, it’s currently our best bet for severing the nonsensical oversight of marijuana by the federal government. In our nation’s capital, a place where few laugh and many lie, policy and politics are in a constant state of flux. The passage of HR 1227 would deregulate marijuana and remove it from the Controlled Substance Act. Problem solved! Legalization would then be determined by the individual states and would-be politicians would no longer be able to pander to the masses on that one topic alone.

  2. Sessionss is a proved liar just like the bulk of the Trump administration. So don’t get your hopes up and keep your powder dry we may still have to fight for our rights!

  3. Just had another thought on this trump and company may force the national legalization by congress. Just because he cant keep a muzzle on his dog Sphincter.

  4. John Marshall on

    Sessions is not to be trusted at all. He has made many statements reflecting his rabid prohibitionist views. He appears recently to have lied to congress under oath about his contacts with Russians, so why should anyone believe him when he tells members of congress anything when he is not under oath? Also, those who identify as conservatives do not support ending prohibition as a group in opinion polls. Trump and his minions are clearly practicing the politics of polarization on a daily basis and only care what their supporters think. As Sessions rightly suggested during his confirmation hearing, if congress doesn’t like the current federal law on Cannabis, they should change it. Yes. They should change it! Urge your representatives to do so now!

  5. Neil Mihelich on

    Jeff Sessions is an idiot and a joke. He claimed that good people don’t smoke marijuana…who says such a foolish statement!? That’s like saying good people don’t drink beer. Making such an assumption is absolutely absurd. The scary part is this guy holds a very powerful position in our government…who knows what damage he will do to this country in the future.

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