Jeff Sessions Just Rescinded An Obama-Era Policy That Left Room For Marijuana Legalization

Apparently, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is planning to abolish a policy that allowed legalized marijuana to thrive in individual states, according to the Associated Press.

The Obama-era policy, known as the Cole Memo, primarily protects states that have chosen to legalize marijuana from federal intervention. As CNN explains, repealing this policy would give U.S. lawmakers the power to enforce these federal laws—even if marijuana is legal in that state.

Sen. Cory Gardner explains that Sessions is essentially going behind Congress’ back to pull the plug on this Obama-era policy: “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.

Through he reassured his followers by stating, “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 we’re glad that Gardner is ready to fight Sessions’ decision.

After all, dissolving the Cole Memo will likely create an unhealthy amount of a grey area around an already controversial political issue (i.e., marijuana). Yes, marijuana is a political issue, seeing as marijuana accounts for approximately 88 percent drug arrests. Plus, marijuana-related arrests incriminate more people of color than any other demographic—by nearly four times.

A spokesperson from Obama’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, Kevin Sabet, told The Hill, “It’s pretty clear that the federal policy is going to be that U.S. attorneys will have the discretion and the industry can no longer hide behind the Cole memo and say that they're protected.” Sabet continued, saying that “we don’t know how this is going to be implemented.”

While certain aspects of Sessions’ decision may be ambiguous, it’s clear that the repeal of this policy will have lasting impacts on the marijuana industry. Though this might not seem detrimental to some people, especially those of us who don’t live in a state that legalizes marijuana, the marijuana industry helps stimulate the economy.

If Gardner isn’t able to stop Sessions’ decision, then this seemingly harmless grey area could hurt the new job prospects that President Donald Trump seems to boast about—not to mention it could make it easier for authorities to incriminate people of color in states that have legalized marijuana.

The future of the Cole Memo is still shaky, but it’s clear that Sessions, who’s been urged to step down from his current political position, might not have made the best decision about rescinding this policy.