Don't Blame Sessions For The Cannabis Crackdown, Blame Congress

13 January, 2018, 05:06 | Author: Brenda Erickson
  • Federal officials have removed many warnings about cannabis from a Drug Enforcement Administration website

The best protection that Congress had been able to provide to the marijuana business community was the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which was passed in 2014.

Hutchinson, a former head of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, said Arkansas particularly needs guidance on whether banks can legally perform transactions related to cannabis sales without the Obama administration's Cole memorandum, which Sessions rescinded.

Gardner raised the possibility of congressional action on marijuana, saying he met this week with a bipartisan group of senators to talk about medical marijuana laws across the country. Pennsylvania is one of 29 states that allow marijuana to be used for medical purposes.

Fans of President Donald Trump who use marijuana say Attorney General Jeff Sessions' move to tighten federal oversight of the drug is the first time they've felt let down by the man they helped elect. Eight states, including MA, have legalized recreational use for adults.

Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., Rep. Coffman, R-Colo., Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., and Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., sent the letter together, and have been actively pursuing options to stop the Attorney General and Dept. of Justice from going after states, like Colorado, where marijuana is legal - both medical and recreational. What will happen to those folks, among others currently engaged with the industry, has now been thrown into a new state of uncertainty by Sessions' move. "The President has previously identified marijuana use within a state as an issue for a state to decide, not the federal government", the members of Congress wrote.

However, last week's announcement by the DOJ directs federal prosecutors to make determinations whether to prosecute marijuana-related criminal offenses based upon the DOJ's guidelines that were in existence prior to the Cole Memorandum and reminds the marijuana community that marijuana remains a Schedule I Controlled Substance, illegal under federal law. "I think it's a very significant development", Hutchinson said of Sessions' move.

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That means any kind of marijuana use, even in minuscule amounts, would be prohibited under federal law.

Analysts say the amendment must be renewed each time federal spending laws are signed, the next of which is to occur on January 19.

Jim Borghesani, a MA spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, is urging Congress to take action to resolve what he called the "gray area" between federal and state marijuana law.

Gardner described a conversation with the attorney general in which he emphasized two themes - states' rights and sticking by one's word - while Sessions played down the significance of the policy shift.

Baker, who did not support the ballot initiative that brought legal marijuana to MA, added that it has the support of the people, and that he would tell Lelling he should "recognize and understand that the voters of MA voted to create a legal, regulated recreational marijuana market here in the commonwealth". The same Sessions who once said he thought the Ku Klux Klan were okay till he found out they smoked pot.

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