Congress, let the states set marijuana policy

Medical marijuana supporters worry in light of Sessions guidance

With the new year brings new changes, including California becoming the sixth state with legalized recreational marijuana sales. This about-face leaves a vacuum of any substantive federal marijuana policy, and threatens to create a "wild west" of haphazard prosecutions. Attorney General Sessions rescinded marijuana prosecution orders issued under the Obama Administration to US Attorneys. "That uncertainty alone makes many investors uncomfortable and can hamper a company operating in the space".

"We expect the federal government to respect the rights of states and the votes of millions of people across America and if they won't, Congress should act", BCC Chief Lori Ajax said in a statement.

The Justice Department didn't provide much clarity.

Vicente, though, stresses that consumers need to know their states' marijuana laws "inside and out" - legal purchase limits, driving under the influence and across state lines restrictions - and warns that it's possible federal officials could prosecute violations of those. "Give me a break", he said. "But there is not a lot the industry players can do to protect themselves if there is a crackdown".

Only six states, so far, have already legalized marijuana for both recreational and medical use - majority blue west coast states including Washington, and, most recently, California. Nevada, Washington, Colorado, Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia had been allowing recreational use, while ME and MA were figuring out how to implement referendums to legalize use.

The public service announcement was rolled out as California began allowing licensed stores to sell pot to adults on January 1. According to Erick Eschker, an economics professor at Humboldt State University, about $5.5 billion of California's $7.8 billion in pot sales is generated from unlicensed and unregulated growers, distributors, and dispensaries.

There is indeed a disconnect between the federal ban on marijuana and the laws in states that allow its sale and use - whether for recreational or medical purposes. Gov. Kate Brown, Oregon Democrat, said the federal plan would be disruptive to a state that collected $108 million in marijuana tax revenue previous year.

The politics of pot has left states divided. Industry advocates say Sessions' announcement will likely dissuade large investors who were already anxious about an industry that remains entirely illegal at the federal level.

"You're not coming back", he said. She said she hopes Sessions' move leads Congress to permanently offer the medical marijuana community protection, rather than renewing it every year. Mr. Gardner threatened to block confirmation of Justice Department nominees unless Thursday's decision is reversed.

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Can I still buy legal weed?

IL and 28 other states have legalized medical marijuana.

The state had taken comfort in the Obama era's so called Cole Memo, written in 2013 by Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole.

He predicts there would be an "uproar" if the federal government moved against what states have done.

Last year, he issued guidance telling prosecutors to pursue the most serious charges possible against drug offenders.

Sessions, who has assailed marijuana as comparable to heroin and has blamed it for spikes in violence, had been expected to ramp up enforcement.

Critics said the ad resembled alcohol ads that present a glorified image of a product and remind users at the end to "please drink responsibly".

"This decision could jeopardize public safety in the long run", Ms. Chettiar said.

Sessions said prosecutors should use their own discretion, taking into consideration the department's limited resources, the seriousness of the crime and the deterrent effect that they could impose.

"We're definitely really excited but also really challenged trying to comply with all the regulations", said Kevin Reed, the founder and president of The Green Cross, which has been selling edible products and smoke-able bud at its medical shop on 4218 Mission St. for 14 years.

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