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A marijuana joint is rolled Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, in San Francisco. Prop 64 legalizing marijuana for recreational use passed in California. The number of Americans living in states with recreational marijuana more than tripled after at least three states voted to fully legalize the drug. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Sessions: 'If you're a drug trafficker, we will not look the other way'


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,.
AG Jeff Sessions

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.

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