UDPATE 10:46 A.M.: Jeff Sessions says his department is not focusing on low-level drug offenders while speaking at an award ceremony Friday.
"If you're a drug trafficker, we will not look the other way," he said.
However, he said low-level drug offenses are not the focus.
The Congressional Black Caucus tweeted this reaction from Rep. Cedric Richmond.
ORIGINAL STORY: Attorney General Jeff Sessions is telling the nation's federal prosecutors to pursue the most serious charges possible against most suspects.
Sessions announced the move in a policy memo sent to U.S. attorneys Thursday.
The AG is looking to withdraw a 2013 directive from Attorney General Eric Holder that federal prosecutors not specify the amount of drugs involved when charging low-level and non-violent drug offenders.
It is a core principle that prosecutors should charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense,.
The change undoes Obama administration policies aimed at easing prison overcrowding and showing leniency for lower-level drug offenses, which could include the possession of marijuana.
Critics of the shift say it will revive the worst aspects of the drug war.
But Sessions has said a spike in violence in some big cities shows the need for a return to tougher tactics.
"We’re on a bad trend right now. We've got too much complacency about drugs. Too much talk about recreational drugs," Sessions said at an opioid-abuse summit in West Virginia Thursday.
--The Associated Press contributed to this report.