The US Justice Department on Thursday reversed official policy that had tolerated the growing state-based movement to legalize marijuana sales, just three days after California formally permitted recreational use of the drug.
Announcing a “return to the rule of law,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded five key memos issued by the administration of president Barack Obama that discouraged enforcement of federal laws, which still classify marijuana as a dangerous narcotic like heroin.
That reversed the election campaign stance by President Donald Trump favoring state marijuana laws, and set up a potential clash with the six US states that have already moved ahead to legalize pot sales.
Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Alaska and California have legalized sales, while Massachusetts is planning to do so this year, and legalization is under debate in Maine.
“It is the mission of the Department of Justice to enforce the laws of the United States, and the previous issuance of guidance…