In his first public remarks about marijuana since being confirmed as U.S. attorney general, Jeff Sessions told reporters on Monday that his Department of Justice will strive to find “responsible policies” regarding the enforcement of federal cannabis laws.
According to the Associated Press, Sessions – who was a vocal marijuana critic as a U.S. senator before being chosen as President Donald Trump’s attorney general – added that he doesn’t believe the United States would be better off with “more people smoking pot.”
“I am definitely not a fan of expanded use of marijuana,” he added. “But states, they can pass the laws they choose. I would just say, it does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not.”
Sessions also said the DOJ is reviewing an Obama-era memo that enabled states to pass marijuana laws, and that marijuana and violence are linked more than “one would think.” Obama’s justice department drafted two major cannabis-industry related memos, the Ogden Memo in 2009 and the Cole Memo in 2013, along with two other Cole Memos.
Sessions also met Monday with Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson. According to NPR, Peterson told Sessions he was worried about a “big overflow” of cannabis from Colorado, a neighboring state where recreational and medical marijuana is legal.
Sessions’ comments are consistent with those of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who last Thursday predicted an uptick in enforcement of federal laws against adult-use marijuana businesses, while also indicating that medical cannabis companies would likely be left alone.