Attorney General Rescinds Obama-Era Marijuana Guidelines

Sen. Lindsey Graham

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Thursday he is effectively unleashing the hounds of the federal government on states that allow for the legalized sale of marijuana, ending a hands-off approach by the previous administration and ignoring promises made by his own boss, President Donald Trump.

Most of the officials who oppose the Sessions move are uninterested in legislation that would limit the federal role in enforcing marijuana policy. In 2012, Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics showed there were 658,000 arrests for marijuana possession and only 256,000 for "cocaine, heroin, and their derivatives". Session's memo repeals that Obama-era policy. Ron Wyden became the first U.S senator to co-sponsor New Jersey senator Cory Booker's Marijuana Justice Act, which would make marijuana legal at the federal level and incentivize states through federal funds to change their marijuana laws. In May, the state Employment Department estimated more than 3,500 people employed in marijuana-related businesses, with wages nearing $23 million.

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The action by Attorney General Jeff Sessions could have damaging consequences for the burgeoning marijuana industry in the six states including California and Colorado that have legalized the drug for recreational use, plus dozens of others that permit medicinal use. "California voters made a decision to legalize adult use of cannabis in 2016".

"Kate Brown is on our side and that's good to know", McKinley said. The United States Attorney's Office in Colorado has already been guided by these principles in marijuana prosecutions - focusing in particular on identifying and prosecuting those who create the greatest safety threats to our communities around the state. Trump could nominate a replacement at any time or decide to keep Troyer, a career prosecutor and attorney.

"The president believes in enforcing federal law - that's his top priority - regardless of what the topic is, whether it's marijuana or immigration".

Walsh, the former USA attorney for Colorado, said sitting and incoming top federal prosecutors in pot-friendly states should rely on their staffs, who have years of experience investigating cases, to put marijuana in context with other priorities.

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Some prosecutors in legalization states issued statements on how they would proceed.

USA attorneys in California paid little heed, continuing a campaign they had begun in 2012 to shut down medical marijuana dispensaries by suing their landlords.

Here's how the Sessions memo affects five areas of Colorado's legal marijuana field.

When asked whether the Justice Department was considering suing states that attempt to legalize the drug after this new policy has gone into effect, one senior Justice official said, "Further steps are still under consideration".

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.

Legal marijuana business owners have the most to lose financially from the Sessions memo. And for medical marijuana, "it is not likely an efficient use of federal resources to focus enforcement efforts on seriously ill individuals or their individual care givers". To say this is an established industry with thousands of people and livelihoods depending on it would be an understatement.

"No matter what the (Trump) administration does, states will continue to hand out licenses to a long line of businesses clamoring for them", Dayton said.

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