Jeff Sessions Threatens Legalized Marijuana by Reversing Obama-Era Policy

Wednesday, March 28, 2018
By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On January 4, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rolled back an Obama-era policy of refraining from prosecuting marijuana businesses and individual users in states that have legalized the drug for medicinal or recreational use. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced this, calling the move a “return to the rule of law.”

Marijuana Criminalization.

Jeff Sessions announced the decision in a memo sent to all U.S. attorneys that highlighted marijuana’s continued criminalization under federal law. In the memo, he labeled previous DOJ guidance discouraging enforcement as “unnecessary” and “rescinded, effective immediately.”

“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.

This move creates a cloud of uncertainty for legal marijuana businesses and the legalization effort which most recently had seen the start of legal recreational marijuana sales in California on January 1, 2018. Currently, 29 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana in some form.

However, marijuana remains a Schedule I drug under federal law, making it a criminal offense to deal or even possess it. You can read Jeff Session’s memo in full, here.

For updates on recreational and medical marijuana, regularly check our Marijuana Law Blog.

To read a recent blog I wrote on the legalization of marijuana, click here.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical and Recreational Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at


Hill, Jon. “Sessions Reverses Obama-Era Marijuana Enforcement Policy.” Law360. (January 8, 2018). Web.

Zapotosky, Zach. “Use of legalized marijuana threatened as Sessions rescinds Obama-era directive that eased federal enforcement.” The Washington Post. (January 5, 2018). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

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