Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he will prioritize convictions of drug dealers and that he is “dubious about marijuana” when he addressed the nation’s state attorney generals Tuesday.
In his first major remarks since taking office, Sessions said that fighting a rising crime rate is his top priority.
“Overall, crime rates in the United States remain near historic lows. Murder rates are half of what they were in 1980. The rate of violent crime has fallen by almost half from its peak in the early 1990s. Many neighborhoods that were once in the grip of gangs and drugs and violence are now vibrant places, where kids can play in the park and parents can enjoy a walk after sunset without fear,” Sessions said before the National Association of Attorneys General in Washington D.C.
The attorney general went on to say, “But in the last two years, we’ve seen clear warning signs – like the first gusts of wind before a summer storm – that this progress is now at risk. The latest FBI official data tell us that from 2014 to 2015, the violent crime rate in the U.S. increased by more than 3 percent – the largest one-year increase since 1991.”
He said that a key cause for this rise in crime is that in “recent years, we’ve also seen a significant shift in the priority given to prosecuting gun and drug offenders at the federal level.”
“Under my leadership at the Department of Justice, this trend will end. Our agents and prosecutors will prioritize cases against the most violent offenders, and remove them from our streets so they can no longer do us harm,” Sessions added. (RELATED: President Obama Has Given 657 Commutations To Cocaine Dealers Since August)
The attorney general also touched on the topic of marijuana legalization during his address. Obama’s Justice Department did not crack down on states and localities that have legalized the sale of recreational marijuana. Sessions said Tuesday that he is “dubious on marijuana” and he doesn’t think “America is going to be a better place when people of all ages, and particularly young people, are smoking pot.”