Attorney General Jeff Sessions was confirmed last Wednesday night by a party-line vote after hours of protest speeches by Senate Democrats.

Most of those protests centered on high-profile accusations of racism as well as Sessions’ record of opposing LGBTQ and reproductive rights. But there’s another policy issue that has advocacy groups, businesses, and even law enforcement concerned about Sessions as head of the Justice Department: His plans for federal marijuana policy.

The cannabis industry operates in an unusual legal gray area, as individual states have quickly moved to legalize a drug that’s still classified as a illegal by the federal government.

Though petitions have been filed over and over since 1972 in efforts to de-schedule the drug, marijuana is still classified by the DEA as a Schedule I substance — meaning it’s considered more dangerous than cocaine (Schedule II) or ketamine (Schedule III).

Despite federal law, eight U.S. states have legalized adult-use marijuana markets in the past few years, with Colorado, Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, Nevada, Massachusetts, and Maine all allowing pot to be sold in stores. In addition, medical marijuana programs are implemented in 28 states.

Most of those protests centered on high-profile accusations of racism as well as Sessions’ record of opposing LGBTQ and reproductive rights. But there’s another policy issue that has advocacy groups, businesses, and even law enforcement concerned about Sessions as head of the Justice Department: His plans for federal marijuana policy.

The cannabis industry operates in an unusual legal gray area, as individual states have quickly moved to legalize a drug that’s still classified as a illegal by the federal government.

Though petitions have been filed over and over since 1972 in efforts to de-schedule the drug, marijuana is still classified by the DEA as a Schedule I substance — meaning it’s considered more dangerous than cocaine (Schedule II) or ketamine (Schedule III).

Despite federal law, eight U.S. states have legalized adult-use marijuana markets in the past few years, with Colorado, Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, Nevada, Massachusetts, and Maine all allowing pot to be sold in stores. In addition, medical marijuana programs are implemented in 28 states.

All of that could be at risk under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a notorious cannabis foe who said “Good people don’t smoke marijuana” during an April 2016 hearing of the Senate Drug Caucus.

“Don’t get me wrong, nothing surprises me with this administration. But the federal government doesn’t have the resources to effectively go after states where these laws have already passed”
“We need grown-ups in charge in Washington to say that marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought not to be minimized, that it’s in fact a very real danger,” Sessions said during the hearing.

Sessions was also famously accused of telling late assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Figures that he thought the KKK was “OK until I found out they smoked pot,” after learning that Klan members had gotten high the night they kidnapped a murdered a young black man.

Sessions has insisted that he was joking when he made that statement, but that kind of animosity has made some marijuana policy experts question where he stands on federal enforcement in legal-marijuana states. In a statement emailed to NBC News, Robert Capecchi of the Marijuana Policy Project said he was “cautiously optimistic.”

Source: The fate of legal marijuana with Sessions as top cop is unclear