Alaska leadership speaks out on DOJ pot decision

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JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - The Latest on the decision by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to end a federal policy affecting states that have legalized marijuana (all times local):

2:50 p.m.

The U.S. attorney for Alaska says his office will continue using "long-established principles" in deciding which cases to charge, following a change in policy on marijuana enforcement by the U.S. Department of Justice.

It was not clear from U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder's statement what that means when it comes to pot. Schroder's office said it was not commenting beyond the statement.

Schroder says one of the principles is following federal law enforcement priorities.

He says the highest priorities of the U.S. attorney's office in Alaska have been combating violent crime, including as it stems from drug trafficking. He says his office will continue to focus on such cases.


1:30 p.m.

Republican U.S. Rep. Don Young of Alaska says a U.S. Department of Justice decision on marijuana enforcement violates states' rights.

The department announced it is rescinding an Obama-era policy that helped pave the way for legalized marijuana to flourish in states across the country.

Alaska is among the states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use by adults.

Young says the federal government is overstepping its bounds.

He says that if this stands and Congress allows the department to crack down on individuals and states, it will be one of the biggest derelictions of duty he has witnessed.

Young has served in the House since 1973.

He says Congress is the voice of the people and has a duty to do what is right by the states.


11 a.m.

Alaska's attorney general says her office is evaluating a U.S. Justice Department decision rescinding an Obama-era policy that paved the way for legalized marijuana to flourish in states, like Alaska.

But state Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth says her office has a duty to uphold and implement state law and will continue to do so.

Alaska voters in 2014 approved legalizing marijuana for recreational use by adults 21 and older. The state regulates the industry.

The first retail marijuana shops opened in 2016.

Lindemuth says the Justice Department's actions create uncertainty for states that have legalized marijuana. She called the decision disappointing.

Gov. Bill Walker says he is committed to upholding the will of Alaskans and will work with the Justice Department and Alaska's congressional delegation to prevent "federal overreach."


9 a.m.

Alaska's senior U.S. senator is calling the Department of Justice's decision to rescind an Obama-era policy that help pave the way for legalized marijuana to flourish in states across the country as "regrettable."

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the change Thursday.

The new stance replaces a more lenient enforcement policy and will let federal prosecutors where marijuana is legal decide how aggressively to enforce longstanding federal law prohibiting it.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, says over the past year she repeatedly discouraged Sessions from changing the policy and asked him to work with states and Congress instead if he thought changes were needed.

She called the announcement "disruptive" and "regrettable."

The office of Alaska's U.S. attorney referred reporters to the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.