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US Justice Department blindsided banking agency on pot policy flip

US Justice Department blindsided banking agency on pot policy flip

One day after Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Obama era Cole Memo, directing federal prosecutors to focus resources away from cannabis related offenses that followed existing state laws, U.S. Attorney for the District of Montana Kurt Alme issued a statement indicating the impact this has on Montanans who own medical marijuana dispensaries and those who use medical marijuana.

A majority of states have decriminalized marijuana, made recreational use legal or approved medical marijuana, according to NORML, which tracks cannabis laws. Twenty-nine states allow the use of medical marijuana. Asked during a January 4 press conference about Sessions' announcement, Governor Hutchinson said he believes the DOJ and Sessions should distinguish between medical and recreational use when it comes to federal enforcement of existing laws. Maine, Nevada, Massachusetts and California all voted to make recreational marijuana use legal for adults in 2016.

The amendment barring federal prosecutors from spending tax dollars to impede states' medical marijuana programs is included in the continuing resolution that is now funding the federal government, said Becky Dansky, a spokeswoman for the Marijuana Policy Project. Yet federal prohibition remains in effect because Congress hasn't updated the nation's drug laws to keep pace with states that have successfully experimented with marijuana reform.

We represent a state that posed the question of marijuana legalization to its voters not once, but twice. In just three paragraphs, he wiped away almost a decade of guidance from the Justice Department for how federal prosecutors should approach legal marijuana.

Cory Gardner, who is calling on the Trump administration to allow states to legalize marijuana without federal interference, is continuing his almost weeklong standoff with Attorney General Jeff Sessions over the issue.

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The second raised the question of using federally-apportioned water, i.e. Colorado River water, to grow a crop which is illegal under federal law.

According to Reuters, congressional queries regarding the policy shift weren't answered by the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, which was reportedly caught off guard by the decision. "'Because of the comments of the United States attorney, we are no longer able to use debit cards, '" Will Luzier of the Marijuana Policy Project of MA said. The nominees, announced on Monday, January 8, include four potential assistant attorneys general in Virginia and Maryland, as well as a USA marshal position in Alabama.

"I think the big message to the USA attorney's office should be if you have limited resources let's focus on the thing that's killing people here every day in the commonwealth which is street drugs and fentanyl", Baker told reporters. Sessions called their hard work and thoughtful approach "unnecessary".

At the same time, people suffering from a variety of ailments ranging from glaucoma to social anxiety can, with a physician's recommendation, procure marijuana to alleviate their symptoms in states that allow it.


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