As the state prepares to hand out its first-ever medical marijuana business permits, Gov. Tom Wolf is taking steps to ensure the federal government doesn't get in the way.

Wolf sent a letter Thursday to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions urging him not to meddle in the state's budding program and promising legal action if he does.

Sessions, a former Alabama senator, is a longtime, vocal critic of marijuana, and he recently asked Congress to repeal the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which prohibits the Justice Department from using federal funds to interfere with the implementation of state medical marijuana laws.

In his letter to Congress, Sessions wrote that it would be "unwise" to restrict the Justice Department's discretion to fund prosecutions, "particularly in the midst of an historic drug epidemic and potentially long-term uptick in violent crime."

Though marijuana remains illegal under federal law, Sessions appears to be fighting an uphill battle in regard to public support, as more than half of the states have legalized medical marijuana and eight states have legalized cannabis for recreational use.

More: BLOG: DePasquale supports recreational marijuana in Pa.

Legislation also has been proposed by a Republican congressman from Virginia to federally decriminalize marijuana.

Wolf wrote that Sessions' plans are "misguided" and noted that he would ask state Attorney General Josh Shapiro to take legal action if Sessions seeks to disrupt "our ability to establish a legal way to deliver relief of medical marijuana to our citizens."

— Reach Dispatch politics reporter David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid. Like the blog on Facebook at The CannaBiz Kid.

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