Attorney General Jeff Sessions has rescinded an Obama-era policy that paved the way for legalized marijuana to flourish in states across the country, creating new confusion about enforcement and use just three days after a new legalization law went into effect in California.
President Donald Trump's top law enforcement official announced the change Thursday. Instead of the previous lenient-federal-enforcement policy, Sessions' new stance will instead let federal prosecutors where marijuana is legal decide how aggressively to enforce longstanding federal law prohibiting it.
Sessions' plan drew immediate strong objection from Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, one of eight states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use.
The move by Trump's attorney general likely is sure to add to confusion about whether it's OK to grow, buy or use marijuana in states where the drug is legal.
It comes just after shops opened in California, launching what is expected to become the world's largest market for legal recreational marijuana and, as polls show, a solid majority of Americans believe the drug should be legal.
With files from the Associated Press.
Laurie Levenson, former federal prosecutor and a professor of law at Loyola Law School
Ron Hosko, president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, a Virginia-based nonprofit that provides legal assistance to law enforcement professionals; former Assistant Director of the Criminal Investigation Division at the FBI (2012 - 2014)
Pamela Epstein, cannabis attorney and owner and founder of Green Wise Consulting in L.A., a firm that assists cannabis businesses on regulations