US Attorney General Jeff Sessions is ending Cole Memo protections allowing states to determine their own path when it comes to marijuana. Sessions is putting the fate of the industry in the hands of federal prosecutors. They’ll now decide how to enforce federal marijuana laws.
The appalling news comes just a few days after California began recreational marijuana sales, NBC New York reports. President Trump hasn’t been very forthcoming with his actual stance on marijuana, but this is clearly Jeff Sessions’ personal agenda picking a fight. He still says that marijuana increases crime and has compared it to heroin and other dangerous drugs.
The legal marijuana industry has quickly become a multibillion dollar industry. In some markets, it’s helping fund schools, law enforcement programs and other community education programs. California’s legal recreational market could bring in as much as $1 billion in tax revenue annually.
U.S. attorneys will have the power to determine which federal resources will be used to enforce federal marijuana law. They’ll base their decisions regarding enforcement on what priority it holds in their districts.
Kevin Sabet of the anti-marijuana group Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) said, “There is no more safe haven with regard to the federal government and marijuana, but it’s also the beginning of the story and not the end. This is a victory. It’s going to dry up a lot of the institutional investment that has gone toward marijuana in the last five years.
Sabet is among those staunchly opposed to marijuana legalization. He had a meeting with Sessions in December along with several other anti-marijuana parties.
Congress remains divided but support has grown for legalization and marijuana law reform across all party lines. Sessions commissioned a task force to study marijuana policy. The task force chose to encourage the Department of Justice to continue reviewing the hands-off approach taken by the Obama administration.
The Obama administration sought to reduce overcrowding in federal prisons. Meanwhile, Jeff Sessions wants prosecutors to seek maximum penalties for drug offenders.
What does this mean for the states that have legalized recreational marijuana? Turmoil, chaos, devastating financial losses for business owners and thousands of jobs lost – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
There is still hope for state-legalized medical marijuana industries though. If the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment is upheld in the federal spending bill, the industry should be safe. If the amendment is left out, the medical marijuana industry will also be at risk, leaving millions without access to medicine.
The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment is safe until at least January 19 when Congress is expected to make a decision on the federal budget spending bill.