Marijuana advocates feared that a report released by the Trump administration’s Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety would link violent crime to marijuana. But the AP, citing portions of the report it had obtained, said that the document recommends that officials continue weighing whether to change or rescind the Obama administration’s largely hands-off approach to enforcement.
Advocates hailed the news on Friday.
“The task force’s recommendations reflect the fact that the Dept. of Justice has more important priorities than harassing legitimate, taxpaying businesses. In states that have approved marijuana for medical or adult use, these businesses are creating jobs, generating revenue, protecting consumers, and making their communities safer,” Don Murphy, the director of conservative outreach at the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement.
“The vast majority of Americans want the federal government to let states determine their own marijuana policies. We hope the attorney general is paying attention and maintains the current policy of non-interference,” he continued.
Sessions has appeared eager to crack down on marijuana as attorney general.
“We’re seeing real violence around that. Experts are telling me there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think and there’s big money involved,” he said in February.
Marijuana is illegal under federal law, however the Obama administration took a more laid back approach to states that had legalized it. The former president said in 2016 that it should be treated as a public health issue “the same way we do with cigarettes or alcohol, is the much smarter way to deal with it.”
Obama’s Justice Department said in 2013 it would not directly challenge state marijuana legalization laws and would soften enforcement of federal laws against the drug’s sales in states allowing the practice.
Eight state and the District of Columbia have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, while 21 states allow the use of medical marijuana.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) introduced a bill to legalize the substance on Tuesday.
“Our country’s drug laws are badly broken and need to be fixed,” Booker said in a statement. “They don’t make our communities any safer.”
The Justice Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comments