Attorney General Jeff Sessions is facing widespread criticism for his newly announced decision to roll back an Obama-era policy that allowed states to legalize marijuana without federal intervention

By Tierney McAfee
January 04, 2018 01:44 PM
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Credit: US Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivers a speech outlining the Department of Justice policy regarding Sanctuary Cities and crime by illegal immigrants at the US Attorney's Office in Center City Philadelphia, PA, on July 21, 2017. (Photo by Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is facing widespread criticism for his newly announced decision to roll back an Obama-era policy that allowed states to legalize marijuana without federal intervention.

“Given the Department’s well-established general principles, previous nationwide guidance specific to marijuana enforcement is unnecessary and is rescinded, effective immediately,” Sessions said in a one-page memo sent to federal prosecutors across the country on Thursday, according to Politico.

The decision is expected to create chaos in the growing industry, particularly in states where the drug has already been legalized. As the Huffington Post reports, “Although marijuana remains illegal under federal law, eight states and Washington, D.C., have voted to legalize the substance for recreational use. A total of 28 states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes.”

Here’s how some people are reacting on Twitter:

User @kormega tweeted: “Jeff Sessions is like a villain from Footloose.”

Another commenter struck a similar chord: “Honestly wouldn’t be surprised in Jeff Sessions called for a crackdown on ragtime music for promoting fornication.”

Sessions, a longtime vocal opponent of marijuana legalization, also faced immediate backlash from at least two Republican senators from states that allow its use, Politico reported.

Sens. Cory Gardner of Colorado, where recreational marijuana legalized in 2012, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, where marijuana was decriminalized in 2003 and legalized recreationally in 2014, both slammed Sessions’ “regrettable” plan on Thursday.

“This reported action directly contradicts what Attorney General Sessions told me prior to his confirmation. With no prior notice to Congress, the Justice Department has trampled on the will of the voters in CO and other states,” Gardner tweeted. “I am prepared to take all steps necessary, including holding DOJ nominees, until the Attorney General lives up to the commitment he made to me prior to his confirmation.”

And Murkowski wrote in a statement, “Over the past year I repeatedly discouraged Attorney General Sessions from taking this action and asked that he work with the states and Congress if he feels changes are necessary. Today’s announcement is disruptive to state regulatory regimes and regrettable.”