Eight states have fully legalized marijuana for adult use and 21 more have legalized it for medical use only, yet federal law continues to ban the use and sale of cannabis.
Nathan Howard | Bloomberg
Congress is heading for a confrontation with Attorney General Jeff Sessions over pot.
Sessions is seeking to crack down on marijuana use while lawmakers from both parties are pushing legislation that would do the opposite.
Measures have been attached to must-pass bills in the Senate that would allow Veterans Affairs doctors to counsel patients on the use of medical marijuana and to continue blocking the Justice Department from pursuing cases against people who use medical marijuana in states that have legalized it.
Some lawmakers are pushing to go even further. Sen. Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat, this week unveiled legislation that would legalize marijuana at the federal level. In the House, Republican Matt Gaetz of Florida proposed legislation that would change the federal classification of marijuana to allow research and a range of medical uses.
Booker said the law needs to be changed because minorities and the poor are disproportionately arrested for what amounts to a minor offense.
“It disturbs me right now that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is not moving as the states are — moving as public opinion is — but actually saying that we should be doubling down and enforcing federal marijuana laws even in states that have made marijuana legal,” he said in a video posted Tuesday on Facebook.
Eight states have fully legalized marijuana for adult use and 21 more have legalized it for medical use only. Federal law continues to ban the use and sale of cannabis. During the Obama administration, the Justice Department didn’t actively prosecute marijuana offenders, an approach Sessions has said needs to change.