Jeff Sessions To Toughen Up On Marijuana
The Trump Administration is making efforts to add more discomfort to businesses in the marijuana industry. Just days after California legalizes recreational cannabis, Attorney Jeff Sessions has moved to reverse the Obama policy of legalized marijuana. Memos from the Obama administration that had adopted a policy of non-interference with marijuana-friendly state laws have been rescinded.
Sessions has given the go ahead to U.S. Attorneys to pursue and enforce federal laws against marijuana. This would in turn make the marijuana industry even more subject to federal prosecution if caught growing, being or using marijuana.
Prior to this decision, the Justice Department had focus elsewhere. With their objective being arresting those selling across state lines, growing on federal property and organized crime, federal involvement was not much of a threat to those doing business with marijuana as long as those restrictions we not violated. Sessions stance goes agains the 60% of Americans who support cannabis legalization according to the Head of the Drug Policy Alliance.
"Jeff Sessions' obsession with marijuana prohibition defies logic, threatens successful state-level reforms and flies in the face of the widespread public support for legalization," said Maria McFarland Sanchez-Moreno. "It's now time for Congress to put the breaks on Sessions' destructive agenda by limiting the Justice Department's ability to undermine states' decision-making."
In a written statement Thursday, Sessions called the shift a "return to the rule of law." "In deciding which marijuana activities to prosecute under these laws with the department's finite resources," the memo states, "prosecutors should follow the well-established principles that govern all federal prosecutions. These principles require federal prosecutors deciding which cases to prosecute to weigh all relevant considerations of the crime, the deterrent effect of criminal prosecution, and the cumulative impact of particular crimes on the community."
The new memo likely "reduces the level of comfort in the industry until it sees how US attorneys actually implement it," said Jim Cole, former deputy attorney general and now a partner at Sidley Austin in Washington. "Given a non-perfect situation, we figured this was the best way to deal with it," he told CNN.
"Each US attorney now gets to decide what will and will not be prosecuted. We'll have to see how it plays out," Cole continued. "There was a previously a higher level of reliability that you could operate your industry if you followed certain rules. That's not necessarily being destroyed, but it is being thrown into question."