Jeff Sessions' Own Task Force Urges Department of Justice to Not Crackdown on Marijuana

For months, United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions has called for a federal crackdown on states with legalized marijuana. But Sessions may face an unexpected roadblock in the form of a Department of Justice subcommittee that he created.

On Friday, the Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety released a report making policy recommendations about how the Department of Justice should handle marijuana. Considering Sessions ordered the task force, many believed that the report would advocate for harsher enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states with legalized cannabis. Instead, the task force said the issue requires more study and said that Obama-era rules keeping the federal government out of state marijuana laws be continued.

While this may sound like good news for marijuana legalization advocates, and it certainly will make Sessions look silly, it isn't necessarily a major win. The task force has no actual power beyond making recommendations, meaning Sessions still has power to use the Department of Justice to wage war on pot. Vox wrote an explainer about how Sessions could still crackdown on cannabis, including raiding legal marijuana dispensaries. 

The effect the task force's report has on President Donald Trump is also important. Trump stated on the campaign trail that he would leave the marijuana issue up to the states. But since taking office, he's implied that the federal government should do more to crackdown on cannabis and has done nothing to stop or refute Sessions' statements about the issue. 

But a DOJ report recommending against marijuana crackdown will not generate a lot of support for Sessions' ideas, which could prevent him from changing the status quo in the near future.

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After making progress on marijuana reform, the legalization movement has stalled in two New England states. Cannabis became legal in Vermont last July, but state lawmakers did not put a regulated market for marijuana in place at that time. So while adults in Vermont can possess, grow and consume cannabis, they can't buy it legally.

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