People in the burgeoning industry say they are confused and uncertain after Attorney General Jeff Sessions shelved an Obama-era policy that advised authorities to tread lightly on enforcing marijuana laws in states that legalized weed.
This new change, from Sessions, means each state's U.S. Attorney can decide if they treat marijuana as an "illegal substance", even in states where it's been legalized. Session's memo repeals that Obama-era policy.
Another 21 states have medical marijuana laws on the books, including red states like Arkansas, which passed its ballot referendum in 2016, and Florida, which put its own measure over the top by a whopping 71 percent at the polls. It discouraged federal prosecutors from bringing marijuana-related charges in states where the drug is legal. Effectively, Sessions has rescinded a 2013 guidance issued by then-Deputy Attorney General Jim Cole that limited prosecutions as along as individuals and businesses were operating under their state's laws.
"Going against the majority of Americans - including a majority of Republican voters - who want the federal government to stay out of the way is perhaps one of the stupidest decisions the Attorney General has made", Blumenauer said in a statement.
"We want to let Jeff Sessions know he can not undercut, undermine the will of the American people", said Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, another caucus member.
The potential political fallout may be clearer: Republican Sen.
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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. State laws that legalize marijuana are in conflict with federal law, which classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, the same category as heroin and LSD.
So either Trump lied about protecting marijuana laws and actually wants to crackdown or he just doesn't care about the issue and is just letting Sessions do whatever he wants.
President Trump, who in other contexts has advocated "states' rights", provided a degree of support for his attorney general through spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders. "We will evaluate violations of those laws in accordance with our district's federal law enforcement priorities and resources". She did not elaborate.
There has been a surge in legalization of marijuana at the state level in recent years.
"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.
Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson Thursday criticized the Trump administration's announcement that it is rescinding a federal policy providing legal protection for marijuana sales in states with recreational pot.
"It is the mission of the Department of Justice to enforce the laws of the United States, and the previous issuance of guidance undermines the rule of law and the ability of our local, state, tribal and federal law enforcement partners to carry out this mission", Sessions said in a statement.
The appointment of interim U.S. Attorney Dayle Elieson was announced Wednesday.
Here is the question we ask every time we consider allocating our finite resources to prosecute any of the vast number of federal crimes we can prosecute, from violent crime to immigration crime to opioid crime: will this prosecution make Colorado safer?
"Parents should be able to give their sick kids the medicine they need without having to fear that they will be prosecuted".