Sessions Unleashes the Hounds on Pro-Pot States

08 January, 2018, 04:57 | Author: Clint Gray
  • Sessions to rescind Obama-era marijuana policy

It also prompted the resignation of the chairman of the state's Marijuana Control Board, who said the decision strips away the underpinning for the legal marijuana industry in Alaska.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions' new stance would allow federal prosecutors in states with marijuana programs to decide how aggressively to enforce federal laws. On January 4, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman made similar remarks at a press conference. "If they intend to prosecute, it would shut us down".

"By not having that (banking) access they tend to be an all-cash business and that's subject to more criminality, and it makes it more hard to collect taxes because without a banking relationship you don't have an audit trail", Coffman said. As long as Congress doesn't revise the law in accordance with the wishes of voters in at least 29 U.S. states, the Attorney General office is tasked precisely with applying it as is.

Sessions's long-dreamed-of crackdown has been expected by critics since he was confirmed past year.

The weed business has bloomed into a multi-million dollar industry.

Yet officials suggested to reporters Thursday that businesses and growers in legalized states have gotten too comfortable and that the primacy of state law means very little in Washington.

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While many states have decriminalized or legalized marijuana use, the drug is still illegal under federal law, creating a conflict between federal and state law.

Dispensaries are still open despite Sessions's wishes.

The policy being rescinded is known as the Cole memorandum, and was enacted as a response to several states passing more lenient responses to non-violent marijuana crimes, and a few years later recreational use.

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado condemned the decision as an infringement on states' rights and pledged to fight any action targeting the state's legal market.

"In deciding which marijuana activities to prosecute under these laws with the Department's finite resources, prosecutors should follow the well established principles that govern all federal prosecutors", Sessions said.

"The Cole memo as interpreted created a safe harbor for the marijuana industry to operate in these states".

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Marijuana revenue has been used in many ways throughout the state. Federal law forbids the growing, use, and buying or selling of marijuana.

The federal perspective, however, has never changed.

"It's time for members of Congress that believe in state rights and drug reform to work together to pass bipartisan legislation to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and allow individual states to regulate marijuana as they deem appropriate", McCarthy said.

Chris Lindsey, senior legislative counsel with the Marijuana Policy Project, said prosecutors previously had discretion.

Whether to crack down on marijuana in states where it is legal is a decision that will now rest with those states' top federal prosecutors, many of whom are deeply rooted in their communities and may be reluctant to pursue cannabis businesses or their customers. The Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment now protects state-compliant medical marijuana patients, caregivers and businesses from federal persecution, but it is only in effect until January 19; after that it will be reconsidered by a House-Senate conference committee.

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