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Sessions changes federal policy on marijuana enforcement

Recently, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded a previous policy that allowed people in states where it is legal to purchase, sell and use marijuana largely without worrying about federal prosecution.

The Obama-era policy discouraged federal prosecutors from pursuing charges in states that had legalized marijuana unless certain aggravating factors were in place. The recent announcement, however, leaves the decision in the hands of federal prosecutors. While marijuana possession, use and distribution are all still illegal on the state level in Pennsylvania, the recent announcement is still worth discussing in every state for a few important reasons.

It exacerbates confusion

There is already confusion regarding marijuana laws in states across the U.S. In some states, marijuana is decriminalized and can be purchased at retail stores. In other states, like Pennsylvania, marijuana is legal for medicinal purposes. This can create serious confusion for people who move, people who attend school and live in different states and people who travel. 

It conflicts with voters' attitudes

It wasn't too long ago that marijuana was considered incredibly dangerous and a "gateway drug." In fact, many people still think about it that way. However, in recent years, there has been growing support for relaxed marijuana laws due, in part, to the widely reported medicinal benefits as well a better understanding of marijuana use, habits and risks. 

In fact, Colorado Senator Cory Gardner argues that the new policy "has trampled on the will of the voters," in states where marijuana is legal.

It's a reminder of how quickly laws and enforcement strategies can change

This situation should serve as a clear reminder that things change when it comes to the criminal justice system. And whether we are talking about state marijuana laws or federal prosecution, it can be very difficult to anticipate how such changes will affect individuals and the legal process.

If you wind up facing drug charges in Pennsylvania, know that it can be far more confusing, frustrating and complex than you expect. There is often more to your case than you realize, so it can be wise to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

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