AG Sessions confirms status quo on cannabis policy

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Despite Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decidedly anti-marijuana statements since he took over the U.S. Department of Justice, it appears cannabis businesses are safe from his agency for the time being.

According to The Cannabist, when asked Tuesday during a congressional committee hearing regarding the DOJ’s policy on the marijuana industry, Sessions replied:

“Our policy is the same really, fundamentally, as the (Obama) policy, which is that the federal law remains in effect and a state can legalize marijuana for its law enforcement purposes, but it still remains illegal with regard to federal purposes.”

In other words, Sessions hasn’t yet decided to tear up the 2013 Cole Memo, which was issued by the Obama administration and laid the groundwork for the current U.S. recreational marijuana industry.

That means the industry status quo will likely continue for the foreseeable future, with states taking the lead on regulating and overseeing cannabis businesses while marijuana remains a Schedule 1 controlled substance at the federal level.

Sessions also walked back some of his previous statements about cannabis and agreed with a congressman who pressed him on whether marijuana is “not as dangerous as heroin.”

“I think that’s correct,” Sessions replied, according to The Cannabist.

However, Sessions has repeatedly refused to close the door on possible future actions against MJ businesses by the DOJ while he’s in charge, and he made similar indications in front of the committee.

“We will be looking at some rigorous analysis of the marijuana usage and how it plays out,” Sessions said.