Trump kills Obama-era protections for state recreational weed sales

Phillip Cunningham
January 8, 2018

In this new memo, Sessions permits USA attorneys to seriously enforce federal law - rescinding the Cole memo - in states where marijuana use is both illegal and legal.

What this does is create an inevitable stand-off over the 10th Amendment rights of seven states and the District of Columbia that have fully legalized cannabis, including California, which officially made pot legal on January 1.

Justice Antonin Scalia, concurring in the decision, started from the premise that the federal government has the power to prohibit commerce in marijuana among the states.

President Trump, who in other contexts has advocated "states' rights", provided a degree of support for his attorney general through spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Sessions, a longtime critic of marijuana legalization, says it causes spikes in violence and crime.

While many states have decriminalized or legalized marijuana use, the drug is still illegal under federal law, creating a conflict between federal and state law.

Since 2014, Congress has attached amendments to the Justice Department budget forbidding interference with laws in states that allow medical marijuana, a list that began with California in 1996 and has grown to 29 states and the District of Columbia, with a combined 60 percent of the USA population.

The move raised questions about how it might impact tax revenues in states that permit some form of legal marijuana use.

Q: Will this make it harder for businesses that sell marijuana?

Medical marijuana is safe.for now. MA and ME are on track to do so this year. Sessions recently rescinded an Obama administration policy that directed the federal government not to challenge state laws that allow people to use marijuana.

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


However, the 2013 "Cole memo" served as a directive for how USA attorneys should handle the legalization of marijuana in order for the federal government to exercise a hands-off approach to states legalization.

FILE PHOTO: Customers shop for "Green Friday" deals at the Grass Station marijuana shop on Black Friday in Denver, Colorado, U.S., November 28, 2014. But they can push legislation to protect marijuana sales. He said the Trump administration's position "defies facts and logic".

Growing Marijuana The Sessions memo includes the word "cultivation", which technically puts the plants in your basement in the same boat as LivWell's 100,000-plus-square-foot warehouse.

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".

The marijuana landscape has shifted dramatically since those memos, the latest of which was authored in 2013.

Marijuana startup companies said they were now bracing for a deceleration in funding. "We had no idea it was coming, and like you, we woke up this morning to the news that there was new direction from Attorney General Sessions", she said.

"In California, we decided it was best to regulate, not criminalize, cannabis..."

According to Forbes, 2017 marijuana sales totaled $6.7 billion in North America. The memo discouraged prosecutors from going after people participating in the marijuana trade in states where recreational marijuana is legal, except in cases with aggravating factors. But his department's ability to pursue criminal charges related to medicinal marijuana remains in doubt.

"Marijuana continues to be against federal law", said one Justice Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

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