Jeff Sessions calls cannabis use ‘slightly less awful’ than heroin

One of the big unknowns of the Donald Trump era is the question of what, if anything, the new American president plans to do about the burgeoning legalized cannabis industry.

Things didn’t become any less murky today after new attorney general Jeff Sessions again criticized cannabis while simultaneously signaling that the Department of Justice probably won’t take widespread action against businesses in any of the eight states that have legalized recreational marijuana.

Speaking with reporters after a speech in Virginia, Sessions said much of the 2013 Cole Memo – which laid the groundwork for the adult-use weed industry as it exists today in the United States – is “valid.” But he also suggested some additional federal guidelines might be coming.

“The Cole Memorandum set up some policies under President Obama’s Department of Justice about how cases should be selected in those states, and what would be appropriate for federal prosecution, much of which I think is valid,” Sessions said in response to a question about whether his DOJ will sue states that have legalized rec, or if the department will prosecute any adult-use businesses. “I may have some different ideas myself in addition to that, but essentially, we’re not able to go into a state and pick up the work that police and sheriffs have been doing for decades.”

Sessions, 70, also reiterated his opposition to pot use and equated it to heroin.

“I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store,” Sessions said. “I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana – so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that’s only slightly less awful.”

Sessions also said he believes medical marijuana “has been hyped, maybe too much,” but he agreed there could be medical benefits in cannabis.

“I acknowledge that,” Sessions said. “But if you … smoke marijuana, for example, where you have no idea how much THC you’re getting is probably not a good way to administer a medicinal amount. So forgive me if I’m a bit dubious about that.”