Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced during a meeting with reporters Monday that the Justice Department would try to adopt “responsible policies” for enforcing federal marijuana laws, but implied that whatever “responsible” policies come do about, there will be an increase in enforcement actions in legal states.
“Experts are telling me there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think,” Sessions said during the meeting. “I am definitely not a fan of expanded use of marijuana. But states, they can pass the laws they choose. I would just say, it does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not.”
It’s unclear which “experts” the Attorney General has spoken to, as data from states like Colorado and Washington shows that states that legalize marijuana tend to see lower violent crime rates. Additionally, experts also report a decrease in drug cartel growth and profits due to the legalization of marijuana across the United States. And though the tax revenues that come as a result of legalization would be outside of the scope of reasoning for the Attorney General, the fact that marijuana legalization has brought millions of dollars in revenue to states that otherwise would not have seen that infusion of cash can hardly be ignored.
Sessions’ comments come on the heels of a statement by White House spokesperson Sean Spicer last week, who said that “the last thing we should be doing is encouraging people” to use marijuana, and that he does believe that we will see “greater enforcement of it”.