Trump Administration Returns to ‘Rule of Law’ for Marijuana Enforcement

By Melanie Arter | January 5, 2018 | 11:39 PM EST

Attorney General Jeff Sessions (Screenshot of Justice Department video)

( - The Justice Department issued a memo Thursday announcing a return to the rule of law when it comes to marijuana enforcement.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memorandum directing all U.S. attorneys to “enforce the laws enacted by Congress and to follow well-established principles when pursuing prosecutions related to marijuana activities.”

“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,” the DOJ said in a press release.

California started off the new year by joining a handful of states that have legalized recreational marijuana. The DOJ’s announcement puts businesses that sell recreational marijuana in its crosshairs.

"It is the mission of the Department of Justice to enforce the laws of the United States, and the previous issuance of guidance undermines the rule of law and the ability of our local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement partners to carry out this mission," Sessions said in a statement.

"Therefore, 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 added.

When asked Thursday whether President Donald Trump sees marijuana as a states issue or a federal issue, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “The president believes in enforcing federal law. That would be his top priority, and that is regardless of what the topic is. Whether it's marijuana or whether it's immigration, the president strongly believes that we should enforce federal law.”

“The move that the Department of Justice has made -- which, my guess is, what you're referencing -- simply gives prosecutors the tools to take on large-scale distributors and enforce federal law. The president's position hasn't changed, but he does strongly believe that we have to enforce federal law,” Sanders said.


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