Legal Weed in Jersey? Trump Administration Could Nip It in the Bud
Gov. Phil Murphy's plans for legalizing marijuana in New Jersey could go up in smoke before the Democrat even takes office this month.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions this week rescinded an Obama-era policy that allowed states like Colorado and California to legalize weed without fear that federal prosecutors would enforce the federal prohibition.
Sessions’ new policy will allow federal prosecutors to decide how aggressively they will enforce marijuana laws where medical and recreational marijuana is legal.
Sessions’ plan drew strong objection from Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado.
Gardner said on Twitter that the Justice Department “has trampled on the will of the voters” in Colorado and other states. He said the action would contradict what Sessions had told him before the attorney general was confirmed and that he was prepared “to take all steps necessary” to fight the step including holding up the confirmation of Justice Department nominees.
The move by Trump’s attorney general likely is sure to add to confusion about whether it’s OK to grow, buy or use marijuana in states where the drug is legal.
Sessions has assailed marijuana as comparable to heroin and has blamed it for spikes in violence. Marijuana advocates argue that legalizing the drug eliminates the need for a black market and will likely reduce violence, since criminals would no longer control the marijuana trade.
Gov. Chris Christie also has been a steadfast opponent of recreational marijuana, and his support for the state's medical marijuana program, which was signed into law by his predecessor, was with plenty of reservations.
Murphy, on the other hand, made recreational marijuana legalization one of the centerpieces of his campaign.
Advocates for the measure in the Legislature have said they expected to pass a legalization bill within Murphy's first 100 days in office. But after the election, legislative leaders in both parties have expressed concerns about rushing any law.
Some municipalities, meanwhile, have already passed local laws banning the retail sale of marijuana in anticipation of its legalization.
Marijuana has been legalized for recreational use in Colorado, Washington, Washington, D.C., Oregon, Alaska, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada. New Jersey is among 23 states with laws allowing medical marijuana.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.