The U.S. Justice Department on Thursday reversed official policy that had tolerated the growing state-based movement to legalize marijuana sales, just three days after California formally permitted recreational use of the drug.
Announcing a “return to the rule of law,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded five key memos issued by the administration of president Barack Obama that discouraged enforcement of federal laws, which still classify marijuana as a dangerous narcotic like heroin.
That set up a potential clash with the eight US states that have moved ahead to legalize pot sales, if government prosecutors decide to begin enforcing the federal prohibition on marijuana.
Six states now allow the sale and use of recreational pot: Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Alaska, and California.
Two others, Massachusetts and Maine, have taken steps to permit sales beginning later this year. (AFP)