State officials respond to Sessions's marijuana decision - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

State officials respond to Sessions's marijuana decision

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WASHINGTON - Attorney General Jeff Sessions is at the center of intense criticism tonight after announcing the end to an Obama-era policy that paved the way for legalizing marijuana in states like Washington. There's outrage from social media to the floor of the U.S. Senate.

There's a lot more uncertainty than answers right now about how Sessions's decision will affect local pot shops in Yakima and Tri-Cities. But reversing the Obama-era rule ends the policy of non-interference by the federal government with states that legalize marijuana.

So rather than being hands-off, federal prosecutors across the country can decide whether or not they crack down on pot possession, distribution, and cultivation.

Under federal law, pot is still illegal. On Thursday, Sessions told prosecutors in a one-page memo, "In deciding which marijuana activities to prosecute under these laws with the Department’s finite resources, prosecutors should follow the well-established principles that govern all federal prosecutions."

Governor Jay Inslee is not happy, saying there will be no change to marijuana policy in Washington, and that "it's well regulated, keeps criminal elements out, keeps pot out of the hands of kids and tracks it all carefully enough to clamp down on cross-border leakage."

State Attorney Bob Ferguson says "it's frustrating that Sessions won't meet with state officials to discuss marijuana laws."

Senator Maria Cantwell says "instead of respecting the will of voters across the country and seeking input from other states, the AG is taking the Department of Justice backwards."