London School of Economics blog post: Why it will be difficult for Jeff Sessions to put the genie back into the bottle on marijuana policy


Lee Hannah, assistant professor of political science is co-author of a recent blog post for the London School of Economics on the topic of marijuana public policy in the United States.  (Photo by Erin Pence)

Last week, the US Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, announced that he would be revoking Obama-era Department of Justice guidance which left the enforcement of marijuana policy to the states by giving prosecutors more discretion to pursue marijuana cases. A. Lee Hannah and Daniel J. Mallinson write that Sessions’ policy about-face draws opposition from many of those in his own party, state US attorneys, interest groups, and state legislatures. Given that the federal government is dependent on state and local law enforcement for implementing drug prohibition, this opposition could well push Congress to change federal marijuana law.

In our recent article and post for this blog, we described state medical marijuana policies as defiant innovations – a process whereby states, through ballot initiatives or the legislature, pass laws that not only circumvent, but also reimagine, federal law. We also questioned whether newer policies really are as “defiant” as their predecessors’. With attitudes shifting in favor of legalizing marijuana use, including a now majority of Republicans, and legalized recreational marijuana in eight states and D.C., it’s reasonable to assume that the train has left the station on stopping state marijuana efforts. Or at minimum, medical marijuana policies would draw little federal attention.

Read the entire blog post at

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