WASHINGTON — Attorney General Jeff Sessions hinted Wednesday that the Justice Department may take a tougher stance on recreational marijuana in the near future, a change in policy that would have a significant impact on the five states plus the District of Columbia that already allow the drug to be used for more than medicinal purposes.

California is scheduled to join that group Jan. 1.

Sessions and other DOJ officials previously indicated that they would continue the policy laid out by the department under former President Barack Obama, which allows state officials leeway in dealing with the drug as long as they meet certain standards, such as keeping cannabis out of the hands of minors, keeping it from crossing into states where it isn’t legal and preventing impaired driving.

Marijuana, however, remains illegal under federal law, and there was always the possibility that the Trump administration could crack down.

“In fact, we’re looking at that very hard right now. We had a meeting yesterday and talked about it at some length,” Sessions said at a news conference Wednesday. “It’s my view that the use of marijuana is detrimental, and we should not give encouragement in any way to it, and it represents a federal violation, which is in the law and is subject to being enforced.”

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