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Announcing a “return to the rule of law”, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded five key memos issued by the administration of president Barack Obama that discouraged enforcement of federal laws, which still classify marijuana as a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.
“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,” Sessions said in a statement.
Sessions did not order a new crackdown on pot sales and use, but told federal prosecutors they could act as they see fit in their districts.
His new guidance directs prosecutors “to use previously established prosecutorial principles that provide them…