What the Sessions Memo Means for Hemp, Medical Marijuana and You

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants criminal charges filed in states where the sale and use of marijuana is legal

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants criminal charges filed in states where the sale and use of marijuana is legal

That memo guided USA attorneys that "the federal government has traditionally relied on state and local law enforcement agencies to address marijuana activity through enforcement of their own narcotics laws".

In short, Sessions is giving federal prosecutors around the country more discretion about enforcing federal law in marijuana cases, even in the states where it is legal.

"As the Justice Department has highlighted, medical studies confirm that marijuana is in fact a unsafe drug, and it is illegal under federal law", Lelling said. They are surrounded by attorneys who have spent their careers arguing federal cases before judges who can make their displeasure with a US attorney known in sentencing decisions and in the scheduling of cases.

Therefore, he said, US attorneys should exercise "investigative and prosecutorial discretion in accordance with all applicable laws, regulations and appropriations". Colorado has a new statewide plant-count limit (the cap of twelve applies to everyone including medical patients, unless they receive a plant-count extension from the state), but it falls to local and state law enforcement officials to enforce that.

"We have hundreds of millions of dollars invested, tens of millions of dollars in taxes we're anticipating that we've already budgeted, and thousands of employees making a good wage who will be affected", Segerblom said.

The memo also protected states from federal prosecution under the controlled substance act.

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The federal perspective, however, has never changed.

Prosecutors in Western states wanted guidance from the Justice Department when the likelihood of state marijuana legalization became clear in 2010 and 2011.

In his memo Sessions said, "Prosecutors should follow the well-established principles that govern all federal prosecutors".

"It's going to be up to the new USA attorney, but we don't know what her position is on this yet".

The pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project said Sessions' shift would only encourage the illegal drug trade and harm people using marijuana as a medicine, which 29 states have legalized. Still, the Justice Department, under President Barack Obama, took a hands-off approach. 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.

"It's going to hurt a lot of people if it does slow down, there are just too many people benefiting financially and with their health", said Steve Williams, a marijuana advocate for DFW NORML.

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In a tweet, Gardner threatened to retaliate by blocking confirmation of Sessions' nominees for DOJ positions.

"The cultivation, distribution and possession of marijuana has always been and remains a violation of federal law for all purposes", she later said in a statement. What Sessions repealed today is known as the "Cole memo". "We will evaluate violations of those laws in accordance with our district's federal law enforcement priorities and resources".

Oregon's congressional delegation and state political leaders were swift in their condemnation of Session's announcement, arguing the Trump administration is being hypocritical on a common Republican refrain of states' rights and threatening to disrupt a burgeoning industry.

The Los Angeles City Council in December finalized and approved three ordinances that regulate the sale of recreational marijuana in the city.

Advocacy groups said the Sessions revision not only flouted the president's previous commitments to local democracy but also amounts to bad public policy.

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