Attorney General Jeff Sessions is rescinding the federal policies that kept prosecutors from interfering with legal marijuana in states across the U.S. Now, those prosecutors can use their discretion to enforce federal marijuana law, even in states where pot is legal for recreational or medical purposes — like Arizona.
In a release, the Justice Department called the move “a return to the rule of law” that allows federal prosecutors to take local control of how they go after drug offenses.
A few hours after the AP broke the news on Thursday morning, the executive director of an Arizona cannabis advocacy organization was in his car, en route to an emergency meeting of sorts. He and several lawyers and marijuana business leaders were frantically poring over how a sudden right turn in federal policy was going to affect them.
“I don’t want to be super-alarmist, but this is very alarming,” said Mikel Weisser, the head of Arizona NORML, which advocates for legal marijuana. Weisser also works in a dispensary in Phoenix: “The news hit us like a bomb,” he said.