Concern for state-level marijuana laws with new attorney general

DENVER (KKTV) - A new leader for the United States could mean big changes to how Federal marijuana laws are enforced.

President-elect Donald Trump's nomination of Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions to be the next attorney general has raised concern that a new administration could mean stricter enforcement on the national level.

During President Barack Obama's time in office, measures to legalize marijuana exploded. Since his inauguration, 17 states have made medical marijuana legal. With Colorado and Washington paving the way in 2012, eight states have legalized recreational marijuana.

Obama never moved to change federal law, which still prohibits marijuana use, but allowed states to dictate their own pot policies. Sessions, on the other hand, is a hardliner when it comes to drug policy reform who could reverse the states-right stance Obama's administration took.

Sessions would have plenty of leeway to do so: the Controlled Substances Acts bans the drug even for medicinal purposes, and the government still has many ways to slow or even stop laws created by states.

The federal government even has the option of suing states, supporting law-enforcement raids, or use of regulation to slow commercial marijuana.