Alaska's response to Sessions' marijuana decision

Published: Jan. 4, 2018 at 3:09 PM AKST
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A memorandum from the U.S. Department of Justice has put the future of growers and producers of Marijuana up in smoke. Early Thursday morning U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a statement that the U.S. DOJ would be lifting an Obama-era policy that kept federal authorities from cracking down on the pot trade in states where the drug is legal like in Alaska.

Gov. Bill Walker has already weighted in on the administration's new stance on the plant.

“Alaskans voted in 2014 to legalize the commercial sale of marijuana. I remain committed to upholding the will of Alaskans on this issue and maintaining our State’s sovereign rights to manage our own affairs while protecting federal interests," Walker wrote. "Today’s announcement withdrawing the Cole Memorandum is disappointing. I will continue to work with the U.S. Department of Justice and our Congressional Delegation to prevent federal overreach into Alaska.”

The Alaska Marijuana Industry Association strongly opposes the action. A statement sent by its executive director says, in part, "This action is a clear slap in the face to the American voters and the residents of Alaska, who overwhelmingly and resoundingly have supported this industry at the ballot box."

The Association says it is working with state regulators and state and federal officials to find out what the decision means for Alaska.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District Of Alaska released its own statement just after 3 p.m. Alaska Time:

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Alaska will continue to use the long-established principles of federal prosecution to determine what cases to charge. One of the key principals is to follow federal law enforcement priorities, both at the national and local levels. The highest priorities of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alaska are consistent with those of the Justice Department nationally: combating violent crime, including as it stems from the scourge of drug trafficking. Consistent with those priorities, the U.S. Attorney’s Office released an Anti-Violent Crime Strategy in October of the past year. We will continue to focus on cases that meet those priorities.”

The U.S. Attorney General has said he will still leave decisions regarding prosecution up to federal prosecutors to decide what to do when state rules collide with federal drug law.