U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions added to the anxiety already permeating the marijuana industry since White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer last week suggested “greater enforcement” of federal marijuana laws is on the way.
“Most of you probably know I don’t think America is going to be a better place when more people of all ages and particularly young people start smoking pot,” Sessions told reporters at the Justice Department today. “I believe it’s an unhealthy practice and current levels of THC in marijuana are very high compared to what they were a few years ago.”
Sessions also said the Justice Department will try to enact “responsible policies” for the enforcement of federal marijuana laws. He expressed concern that marijuana could be causing violence in the United States.
“We’re seeing real violence around that,” Sessions said regarding marijuana. “Experts are telling me there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think and there’s big money involved.”
Sessions did not provide additional details on his “expert” sources. He also did not indicate whether the violence he referred to was caused by marijuana use or if it was linked to legal dispensary sales. He has made questionable comments on marijuana for years while serving in the United States Senate and has even suggested that marijuana use could lead to heroin addiction.
Sessions also said the department was reviewing the Cole memo, an Obama Justice Department guideline that permits states to regulate their own medical marijuana laws.
“Most states have some limits on it and, already, people are violating those limits,” the attorney general said. “We’re going to look at it…and try to adopt responsible policies.”
President Trump has staffed his cabinet with several anti-marijuana advocates. Many have worried that the Trump administration is gearing up for a mass crackdown on the marijuana industry.
A mass crackdown would be a monumental undertaking for the federal government and a potential huge strain on resources. Currently, there are 28 states that have legalized medical marijuana, and eight states have approved recreational marijuana.
Sessions’s comments come as support for legalized marijuana may be at its highest point yet. A recent Quinnipiac poll showed that 93 percent of Americans support medical marijuana, while 59 percent are in favor of recreational use. The poll also showed that a whopping 71 percent of Americans do not want the White House to interfere with state marijuana laws.