States Won't Back Down From Sessions On Marijuana

Ebony Scott
January 8, 2018

As long as Congress doesn't revise the law in accordance with the wishes of voters in at least 29 U.S. states, the Attorney General office is tasked precisely with applying it as is. He pointed to the chill this would put on businesses, landlords, and particularly banks that are still hesitant to work with cannabis clients, despite the millions of legal dollars changing hands.

Most cannabis businesses are uncertain as to how this change will affect them, but many have faith in lawmakers to defend state laws. If Cory Gardner and Nancy Pelosi want the federal government to leave most of this field to the states, their proper course is not to make life hard for the Justice Department until it agrees to stop enforcing the laws Congress has enacted. Colorado, Washington, California and several other states have legalized marijuana for recreational use, notwithstanding federal prohibitions.

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.

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

And Colorado's USA attorney, Bob Troyer, who was appointed to his office by Sessions in November, said Thursday that the attorney general's directive would not change his policy to prosecute only marijuana operations that "create the greatest safety threats to our communities". "It's probably going to make people a little bit more cautious and it's going to cause some fights, but I think this is sort of the last fight that the prohibitionists may be putting up". Sessions is leaving it up to federal prosecutors in states that allow its sale and use to decide whether to crack down on the marijuana trade.

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Marijuana advocates say the push for legalization is still gaining momentum in the Lone Star state, and this could come down to a good ole fashioned battle over state's rights.

"The president believes in enforcing federal law - that's his top priority - regardless of what the topic is, whether it's marijuana or immigration". She did not elaborate. He threatened to play hardball, even putting a hold on all DOJ nominees, including Colorado's interim U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer, if Sessions proceeds down this path.

"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. A federal law blocks the Justice Department from interfering with medical marijuana programs in states where it is allowed. They are surrounded by attorneys who have spent their careers arguing federal cases before judges who can make their displeasure with a US attorney known in sentencing decisions and in the scheduling of cases.

Coos County Sherriff Craig Zanni said, "This is now a federal issue related to a change of federal prosecutor's directives".

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". This decision will create massive uncertainty, hurt local businesses and tax revenue, and harm public safety by driving cannabis activity back into the more unsafe black market. "The biggest growth phase was during the (George W.) Bush administration, when we were facing SWAT team raids, and prosecutions on a almost weekly basis in California".

Opened in 2013, Sweet Relief was Clatsop County's first medical marijuana dispensary and started selling to recreational customers with others in October 2015. But Arcview's leader, Troy Dayton, said the industry was resilient.

"We use the money we get from marijuana sales to fund our school resource officer and to bring in a D.A.R.E officer to speak to the schools", North Bend City Administrator Terence O'Connor said.

Other reports by GizPress

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