Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Thursday blasted Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s decision to rescind an Obama-era directive that banned federal prosecutors from enforcing federal marijuana laws in states that had legalized the substance, noting that the plant is less dangerous than heroin and that states should move toward decriminalizing it.
“Marijuana is not the same as heroin. No one who has seriously studied the issue believes that marijuana should be classified as a Schedule 1 drug beside killer drugs like heroin,” Sanders said in a statement.
“Quite the contrary. We should allow states the right to move toward the decriminalization of marijuana, not reverse the progress that has been made in recent years,” he added.
The Hill added:
Sanders’s statement comes after reports that Sessions plans to rescind the so-called Cole memo, written by then-Deputy Attorney General James Cole under former President Obama, which directed federal prosecutors to deprioritize marijuana-related offenses in states that have legalized recreational use of the substance.
The move by Sessions threatens the movement to legalize recreational marijuana use in several states, including, most recently, California, which began allowing recreational use on Monday.
So far, six states have approved marijuana for recreational use, and dozens allow marijuana for medical use. The substance, however, remains federally prohibited and is classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance.
The Cole memo discouraged U.S. attorneys from prosecuting marijuana-related cases in states that have legalized recreational marijuana use, therefore giving states leeway to implement pot-friendly laws.