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Justice Department doubles down on federal marijuana law


The U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday issued a memo on federal marijuana enforcement policy, telling all U.S. attorneys to enforce the Controlled Substances Act, which classifies marijuana as an illegal drug.

The announcement is a pre-Obama administration return to “the rule of law and the rescission of previous guidance documents ... (which) generally prohibited the cultivation, distribution, and possession of marijuana,” the Justice Department said in a statement.

In the memorandum, “Attorney General Jeff Sessions directs 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,” according to the statement.

“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,” Mr. Sessions said in the 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.”