Federal district attorneys and law enforcement could now decide whether to apply Federal legislation prohibiting cannabis, even in states where cannabis has actually been legislated to be legal. Read on to discover what could happen next for the states.
According to news by the Associated Press, United States Chief Law Officer Jeff Sessions announced this morning that he has retracted an Obama era policy that told federal prosecutors and law enforcers to not interfere with states where pot was legal.
The Cole Memo, was written by the last sitting U.S. Attorney general, James M. Cole in 2013. Released by the Justice Department, the paper directed law enforcement to avoid prosecution of state sanctioned cannabis operations catering to adults, with the exception to stop the distribution of marijuana to minors, shut down criminal ventures, and to continue to police jurisdictions where marijuana was illegal.
In direct opposition to the last administration, Sessions apparently does have strategies to intentionally apply federal law and stand in the way of states that legalize marijuana. His one-page memorandum to government district attorneys revealing the previous memo being retracted comes only days after retail marijuana shops opened up in the Golden state.
“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 prosecutions,” he wrote in his statement.
Months ago Sessions recognized the Obama-era hands-off plan was still in position, but rapidly reiterated that cannabis “still remains illegal with regard to federal purposes.” Sessions is a blatant marijuana enemy. His past statements are well known where he has compared marijuana to heroin as well as blamed it for escalations in violence, regardless of these strident claims being based upon propaganda but not reality.
The breaking news by Sessions was quickly slammed by cannabis supporters and also legislators. He also apparently is taking a left turn from what President Trump has stated earlier when he said this issue must be decided by the states. Colorado Republican Senator Cory Gardner stated in a tweet that the action by the Justice Department “has trampled the will of the voters.”
Colorado is just one of eight states to have legislated recreational marijuana usage. Polls show that a large majority of Americans think cannabis needs to be legal.
How this might play out in California and other “Legal” Cannabis States
Sessions plan provides U.S. attorneys throughout the nation the opportunity to choose whether or not to utilize government resources to commit to a marijuana crackdown.
In a strange twist, pursuing to enforce these regulations would endanger the projected billions in forecasted tax income across the country for marijuana sales. A recent projection of the United States legal cannabis market expects growth from $6.7 billion in 2016 to $24.5 billion by 2025.
This would decimate the $1.4 billion in tax earnings created by states where cannabis has already been legalized.
Tax revenues from pot in Washington and Colorado have been used to fund health clinics, college scholarships, education and schools, substance abuse prevention programs, highway repair, community health and wellness centers and even to help fund Medicaid in both states.
A federal suppression on pot could likewise place a considerable clampdown on the marijuana sector’s expanding employment growth, which was on track to go beyond the number of people employed by government, utilities and manufacturing combined. Marijuana Business Daily reports that the country’s hemp/cannabis industry has already generated 165,000 to 230,000 full and part-time jobs, up from the 100,000 to 150,000 jobs reported in the prior year.
Sessions’ memo won’t impact states where medical cannabis is legal, yet . There is already an amendment in place for now, the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, that bans the Justice Dept from disrupting medical cannabis programs in the 29 states where medical cannabis is legal. Sessions has previously requested congressional leaders to not extend this amendment. The amendment has only recently been temporarily extended to January 19.