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Arizona DPS director would like Supreme Court ruling on marijuana

(AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

PHOENIX — The director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety said Friday that he would like to see the Supreme Court rule on marijuana, if only to give law enforcement agencies some clarity.

“I think there needs to be some nationwide direction,” Col. Frank Milstead told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes.

However, Milstead was not holding out hope that a ruling would come soon, particularly one that would fully recriminalize the drug.

“Unfortunately, because the ship has sailed in so many of these states – including our neighboring states – I don’t know if you can get back to zero,” he said. “I don’t know if that happens. We don’t know that there’s the public sentiment to make that happen.”

No matter what happens, Milstead said he was glad the debate on marijuana — something he sees as a potential danger to public health — will continue.

Milstead’s words came one day after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions ended a policy enacted under then-President Barack Obama. It kept federal authorities from cracking down on the pot trade in states where the drug is legal.

His ending of the policy will likely create confusion among enforcement agents and officials in the burgeoning industry.

It is not clear how the change might affect states where marijuana is legal for medical purposes. A congressional amendment blocks the Justice Department from interfering with medical marijuana programs in states where it is allowed. Justice officials said they would follow the law, but would not preclude the possibility of medical-marijuana related prosecutions.

Officials wouldn’t say whether federal prosecutors would target marijuana shops and legal growers, nor would they speculate on whether pot prosecutions would increase.

Asked about the change, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said only that President Donald Trump’s top priority is enforcing federal law “and that is regardless of what the topic is, whether it’s marijuana or whether it’s immigration.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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