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U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions gestures during a speech on the efforts to combat drug trafficking and end the opioid crisis Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, in Tampa, Fla. (Photo: AP/Chris O'Meara)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions pledged his continued opposition to marijuana legalization and sanctuary cities in a meeting with the members of the National Sheriffs’ Association this morning.

Sessions told the sheriffs that the administration of President Donald Trump, over its first year, has helped law enforcement “turn the corner,” in terms of recruitment and civil-asset forfeiture.

“The most important thing that any government does is keep its citizens safe,” Sessions said, in prepared remarks. “The first civil right is the right to be safe.”

Politics is holding back public security, Sessions said—specifically citing a nominee for an anti-terrorism position on the DOJ that has not yet been voted upon in the U.S. Senate

That dispute is reportedly over marijuana and federal policy toward states’ legalization laws. Sessions said the DOJ would consider marijuana illegal everywhere in the country.

“I cannot and will not pretend that a duly enacted law of this country—like the federal ban on marijuana does not exist,” said Sessions. “Marijuana is illegal in the United States—even in Colorado, California and everywhere else in America.”

The Attorney General cited statistics indicating decades of crime decreases were reversed at the end of the second term of President Barack Obama—but which have since been reversed again by Trump in his first year in office. Such numbers have been subject of back-and-forth debate.

Sessions solidified several other stances he has taken over about a year in office. Sanctuary cities will no longer receive federal grants, and the federal authorities would support agreements like the recent one between 17 Florida sheriffs and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to facilitate detentions of immigrants without authorization. Civil-asset forfeiture is also being fostered through the equitable sharing program at the DOJ—in 15 states that have recently passed or are considering legislation, Sessions added.

The feds want to be a “force multiplier” for local jurisdictions, he added.

“I believe that morale is already up among our law enforcement community,” Sessions said, in his prepared remarks. “I can feel the difference. And we have good reason to be encouraged.”

Sesssions also appeared to ad-lib some of his final remarks, extolling the "Anglo-American heritage" of law in the country. The phrase drew some criticism outside the meeting.

Trump met with the sheriffs last year in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, to discuss what he called “a public safety crisis” in America. At the time, the president told the Association they have a “true, true friend in the White House,” and signed three executive orders “designed to restore safety in America.” A major topic of that meeting was the border wall with Mexico.

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