- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 5, 2017

States that have legalized recreational or medical marijuana could have a better idea by late July how the Justice Department intends to handle marijuana enforcement under the Trump administration.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo Wednesday indicating that the initial recommendations from the department’s new task force on crime reduction and public safety were due by July 27.

The task force is expected to identify ways to reduce violent crime and illegal immigration, and as part of that undertaking is evaluating existing policy in numerous areas — including marijuana enforcement, charging and sentencing, and asset forfeiture.

Uncertainly has lingered over what could happen to recreational or medical marijuana markets since Mr. Sessions took the helm at the DOJ.

Individuals involved in states’ legal marijuana markets are concerned that their businesses could be targeted by law enforcement and the recreational market dismantled under the Trump administration.

Though marijuana currently remains illegal under federal law, the Obama Justice Department enacted guidelines that limited federal enforcement of marijuana laws in states that had opted to legalize medical or recreational use.

Mr. Sessions has spoken out in opposition to legalization efforts in the past and has not indicated if he plans to roll back or revise the Obama guidelines or to otherwise step up enforcement.

Mr. Sessions’ memo states that task force subcommittees will “undertake a review of existing policies in the areas of charging, sentencing, and marijuana to ensure consistency with the department’s overall strategy on reducing violence crime and with the administration goals and priorities.”

Other subcommittees will:

— Make recommendations for reducing violent crime, including an evaluation of ways DOJ can support local law enforcement, and measure the effectiveness of such efforts.

— Review use of asset forfeiture and make recommendations on how to improve policies and training to better target the financial infrastructure of criminal organizations.

— Develop a plan to address hate crimes and better protect Americans.

— Review immigration enforcement and efforts to combat human trafficking.

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