Sessions evades question on marijuana enforcement, says Congress should change laws

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions ducked questions from Senate Republicans and Democrats Wednesday about his plans to enforce federal marijuana laws in states that have legalized or decriminalized the drug, telling lawmakers to change the federal laws if they are concerned.

“The federal government has passed some laws on marijuana that I’m not able to remove from the books, ” he said during an appearance before the Senate Appropriations Committee. “Congress — you — have passed them. They are on the books.”

In January, Mr. Sessions rescinded an Obama-era policy of not interfering with marijuana-friendly state laws, leaving it up to state prosecutors how aggressively they want to pursue such cases.

Several states have decriminalized or legalized marijuana, but it remains illegal under federal law, creating a clash between federal and state law.

The decision has created confusion in states that have marijuana-friendly laws. Licensed marijuana growers and federal prosecutors are unclear what the rules are and which laws should be enforced.

Despite efforts by senators to get some clarification, Mr. Sessions would not provide it.

“Our priorities are fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine,” he said. “People are dying by massive amounts as a result of those drugs. We have very few, almost zero, virtually zero small marijuana cases. But if they are a big deal and illegally acting and violating federal law, our agents may work that case.”

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