Prosecutors in pot-friendly states will decide on crackdown

08 January, 2018, 04:59 | Author: Tina Rodriquez
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Until Sessions' announcement on Thursday, federal prosecutors followed guidelines laid out in the so-called Cole memo, which was issued by the Justice Department during the Obama administration.

The Justice Department move plunged California's fledgling recreational pot market into further uncertainty, and was met with a bipartisan backlash from lawmakers in states where marijuana is now sold legally to any adult who wants to buy it.

Marijuana has never been legal under federal law, and it still isn't.

"It is the mission of the Department of Justice to enforce the laws of the United States, and the previous issuance of guidance undermines the rule of law", Sessions said in a statement.

Therefore, he said, US attorneys should exercise "investigative and prosecutorial discretion in accordance with all applicable laws, regulations and appropriations".

Q: How will this affect states that have legalized recreational marijuana?

Growing Marijuana The Sessions memo includes the word "cultivation", which technically puts the plants in your basement in the same boat as LivWell's 100,000-plus-square-foot warehouse. While Sessions technically gave federal prosecutors the right to go after anyone buying pot, marijuana attorney Brian Vicente doubts any government agencies would use self-admitted "finite resources" to bring charges against an average dispensary customer, especially one following Colorado state laws.

Colorado's US attorney, Bob Troyer, said his office won't change its approach to prosecution, despite Sessions' guidance.




Medical Marijuana Patients Although Sessions's revocation included the Ogden memo, which protected state-compliant medical marijuana patients and caregivers from federal prosecution, it doesn't touch federal acts with measures that protect medical marijuana stakeholders. They also declined to specify what message the attorney general is sending to the pot industry, which is expanding in states with their own more lenient laws. Federal law forbids the growing, use, and buying or selling of marijuana.

The potential political fallout may be clearer: Republican Sen.

Sandoval is a moderate Republican and former federal judge who appointed Heller to the Senate in 2011 and talked with Sessions about marijuana policy last April.

"Jeff Sessions told me this wouldn't be a priority". But in the aftermath of Sessions' decision, he seems to have backtracked from that position. But there is a new attorney general, "who I guess wants to reverse the course of history or something", he said.

"One wonders if Trump was consulted - it is Jeff Sessions after all - because this would violate his campaign promise not to interfere with state marijuana laws".

"I'm not anxious. Everything we do here follows state laws, and everything is up to code. It should be up to the states, absolutely".

"The president believes in enforcing federal law - that's his top priority - regardless of what the topic is, whether it's marijuana or immigration". In November, he told reporters that marijuana is not "harmless" and suggested that people should avoid it. That approach is consistent with Sessions' guidance, he said.

Sandoval calls Nevada's marijuana industry a model for other states, while working within the guidelines of federal policies.

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