In the midst of Congressional grilling, Sessions takes heat on marijuana attitude

Sessions was asked to defend statements he has made in the past, including 'Good people don't smoke marijuana'.

By Polly Washburn, The Cannabist Staff

As U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, he fielded pressing question on the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russians – and his past remarks on marijuana.

Steve Chabot, a Republican from Ohio, which is in the process of implementingits medical marijuana program, noted that while it remains illegal under federal law, many states have legalized cannabis for medicinal or recreational purposes. Given that disparity, Chabot asked Sessions to clarify, “What is your department’s policy on that, relative to enforcing the law?”

Sessions did not add any new nuance to the status quo, responding, “Our policy is the same really, fundamentally, as the Holder-Lynch policy, which is that the federal law remains in effect and a state can legalize marijuana for its law enforcement purposes, but it still remains illegal with regard to federal purposes.”

Moments later, Stephen Cohen, a Democrat from Tennessee, where medical marijuana is still under discussion, followed up on Sessions’ response. Referring to the Rohrbacher-Farr amendment, Cohen outlined how former attorney generals Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch abided by federal enforcement limits imposed by congressional budget appropriation in states that had passed medical marijuana laws. He asked, “Will you abide by congressional appropriations and limitations on marijuana when it would conflict with state laws?

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