Attorney General Jeff Sessions has directed the Justice Department to evaluate marijuana ‘enforcement policy’ as part of a new task force designed to reduce violent crime, according to a memo issued Wednesday to 94 US attorneys.
The memo specifically outlined the creation of a subcommittee of the new Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety designed to review existing policies to ensure “consistency with the Department’s overall strategy on reducing violent crime.”
The memo is likely referring to the Cole Memorandum, a 2013 directive from the Obama era which stipulates that the Justice Department place “low priority” on enforcing marijuana laws against businesses and organisations that comply with state law.
Marijuana is illegal at the federal level, though a number of states have voted to legalise and regulate the recreational market in recent years.
A group of governors from states that have recreational marijuana laws on the books wrote a letter urging Sessions to keep marijuana legal on Tuesday.
Reducing violent crime is a priority for Sessions’ Justice Department, to combat what he says is a dangerous national trend of rising crime associated with the opioid epidemic. And, he’s made efforts to link marijuana to violent crime, saying there’s “more violence around marijuana” at a speech to state attorneys general in February.
Violent crime rates are at a historic low, though rates rose 3% between 2014 and 2015, according to the FBI.
Trump himself hasn’t yet laid out a specific policy towards marijuana legalization.
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