Medicine

Prosecutors in pot-friendly states will decide on crackdown

Prosecutors in pot-friendly states will decide on crackdown

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".

However, the 2013 "Cole memo" served as a directive for how US attorneys should handle the legalization of marijuana in order for the federal government to exercise a hands-off approach to states legalization. He said he was withdrawing an Obama administration policy that was meant to defer to state cannabis laws.

Among companies that have invested in the industry, Scotts Miracle-Gro, a gardening product manufacturer, has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to acquire companies that sell soil, lighting, fertilizer and other products to marijuana growers. "There is a belief that that is inconsistent with what federal law says", a senior Department of Justice official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Politico.

Even as a series of states legalized the recreational use of marijuana, the possession, use or sale of the drug remained a federal crime.

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.

The potential political fallout may be clearer: Republican Sen.

Arkansas voters took to the polls in 2016 to legalize the use of medical marijuana.

In Colorado, U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer said his office will continue to focus on "identifying and prosecuting those who create the greatest safety threats to our communities around the state".

Lori Ajax, chief of California's Bureau of Cannabis Control, which oversees the state's regulation of the marijuana industry, said California was conferring with other states to respond to Sessions' action.

"I couldn't immunize people through the policy, but it did give them a level of comfort that was enough for them to say, if I behave, we're basically going to be OK", Cole said.

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Sessions is a longtime crusader against marijuana, a drug he has likened to heroin. He says things will now be left up to federal prosecutors.

That reversed the election campaign stance by President Donald Trump favoring state marijuana laws, and set up a potential clash with the six USA states that have already moved ahead to legalize pot sales.

"That would be his top priority, and that is regardless of what the topic is, whether it's marijuana or whether it's immigration", Sanders told reporters.

Since 2014, federal lawmakers have attached language to spending legislation that explicitly bars the Justice Department from spending resources to enforce cases in states where medicinal marijuana is legal. She did not elaborate.

But it's looking like US Attorney General Jeff Sessions does not agree.

"If they close down regulated access to cannabis, all they are doing is opening it up to the cartels and the black market", he said.

Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, whose home state of Alaska has legalized recreational marijuana, also weighed in with a statement, saying Sessions' announcement-which she had repeatedly warned him against making-was "disruptive to state regimes and regrettable". It also created uncertainty for banks, already fearful about business relationships with the marijuana industry because of concerns they might run afoul of anti-money laundering rules.

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

"Marijuana has been under a prohibition regime entirely in the time that the industry has expanded to where it is today", said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, representing more than 1,500 marijuana-related businesses.


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