Sessions announced Thursday that growers and dispensaries could be prosecuted under federal law, as marijuana is still a Schedule 1 controlled substance at the federal level.
“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.
Leaders across California were quick to respond. California Bureau of Cannabis Control Chief Lori Ajax said that the Trump administration was working on a solution with the California Attorney General, but that pot sales would continue.
“We expect the federal government to respect the rights of states and the votes of millions of people across America and if they won’t, Congress should act,” Ajax said. “Regardless, we’ll continue to move forward with the state’s regulatory processes covering both medicinal and adult-use cannabis consistent with the will of California’s voters, while defending our state’s laws to the fullest extent.”
Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson also had words for the administration, calling Sessions’ statement an overreach of government.
“We will not be bullied by an out-of-town and out-of-touch politician,” Wesson said. “The voters of California and Los Angeles have spoken and we will continue doing our job of reasonably regulating the cannabis industry in spite of Washington running amok.”
Marijuana sales are especially relevant to Los Angeles, which finalized three ordinances regulating recreational marijuana in the city. Leaders predicted that marijuana taxes could bring up to $100 million in new revenue annually, money that could be used for schools or infrastructure, as it has been in Colorado. There, about $117 million has been used to fund school construction projects, while about $70 million has gone to substance abuse programs.