Attorney General Jeff Sessions to rescind marijuana policy

Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Credit Mark Reinstein  Shutterstock

Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Credit Mark Reinstein Shutterstock

The Justice Department move plunged California's fledgling recreational pot market into further uncertainty, and was met with a bipartisan backlash from lawmakers in states where marijuana is now sold legally to any adult who wants to buy it. Effectively, Sessions has rescinded a 2013 guidance issued by then-Deputy Attorney General Jim Cole that limited prosecutions as along as individuals and businesses were operating under their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.

"In rescinding the Cole memo, the Attorney General failed to listen to Colorado, and will create unnecessary chaos and confusion", he said on Twitter.

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?

Whatever Elieson's feelings on the issue, marijuana business owners don't believe they're in immediate jeopardy. But Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom the President once called "beleaguered", is not attending.

The appointments are temporary, but the prosecutors could be named permanently as Sessions fills the vacant slots.

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"We have hundreds of millions of dollars invested, tens of millions of dollars in taxes we're anticipating that we've already budgeted, and thousands of employees making a good wage who will be affected", Segerblom 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".

Dispensaries are still open despite Sessions's wishes.

Prosecutors in Western states wanted guidance from the Justice Department when the likelihood of state marijuana legalization became clear in 2010 and 2011. Purchasing and possessing pot products is still legal in Colorado and other states that have regulated it.

"In deciding which marijuana activities to prosecute under these laws with the Department's finite resources, prosecutors should follow the well established principles that govern all federal prosecutors", Sessions said.

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Marijuana revenue has been used in many ways throughout the state. The Supreme Court, weighing in on this in 2005, ruled six to three in favor of the federal government's ban superseding state medical marijuana laws.

Marijuana has never been legal under federal law, and it still isn't. But if you're flying under the radar with a small-but-illegal operation, why risk it? They hoped to avoid a patchwork of prosecution strategies, Walsh said. "We believe USA attorneys' offices should be opened up to bring all of these cases that are necessary to be brought".

Patrick McCarthy, spokesman for the NY cannabis association, sidestepped a question on how revocation of the Obama-era memos would affect medical marijuana providers, practitioners and patients.

Robert Troyer, who was appointed an interim USA attorney for the District of Colorado by Sessions in November, said his office's decisions regarding marijuana cases would be guided by similar principles as before: "focusing in particular on identifying and prosecuting those who create the greatest safety threats to our communities around the state".

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