In summary

The U.S. Senate has voted largely along party lines to confirm former Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions as the nation’s Attorney General. The 70-year-old Sessions has been a vocal critic of marijuana decriminalization for much of his political career—calling legalization a “tragic mistake” and vigorously criticizing the Obama administration’s hands-off attitude toward marijuana enforcement.

The U.S. Senate has voted largely along party lines to confirm former Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions as the nation’s attorney general.

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The 70-year-old Sessions, a conservative Republican, has been a vocal critic of marijuana decriminalization for much of his political career—calling legalization a “tragic mistake” and vigorously criticizing the Obama administration’s hands-off attitude toward marijuana enforcement.  

Sessions will now head a Justice Department with the power to prosecute marijuana growers and retailers across California, where last fall voters legalized recreational pot use by a wide margin.

Legalization advocates expressed cautious optimism that despite Sessions’ anti-legalization record, the federal government would continue to allow states like California to develop a well-regulated recreational market.

During Senate confirmation hearings, Sessions declined to go into detail on how he would handle states that have fully legalized marijuana. He did, however, suggest that the amount of resources the Department of Justice would have to deploy to prosecute certain marijuana offenses could factor into the agency’s decision-making.

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Matt Levin is the data and housing dude for CalMatters. His work entails distilling complex policy topics into easily digestible charts and graphs, finding and writing original stories from data, yelling...