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Published: Mon, January 08, 2018
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Feds change marijuana policy, which could affect businesses involved

Feds change marijuana policy, which could affect businesses involved

And Sessions is giving broad discretion to US attorneys to decide how aggressively to enforce marijuana law, among all the other demands on their time and limited resources. He said he was withdrawing an Obama administration policy that was meant to defer to state cannabis laws.

Experts say they think the multi-billion dollar business now legal in some form in a majority of states is too large to bust.

Under the state's medical marijuana law enacted in 2014, NY has 1,384 medical practitioners and 40,286 certified patients.

The announcement reversed a President Barack Obama-era memo, written by then-Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole, discouraging prosecutors from pursuing marijuana-related charges in states - including OR and Washington - where it has been legalized.

The action by Attorney General Jeff Sessions could have damaging consequences for the burgeoning marijuana industry in the six states including California and Colorado that have legalized the drug for recreational use, plus dozens of others that permit medicinal use.

Senator Jeff Merkley said, "There is nothing to be gained from going back to an era when federal resources were wasted prosecuting nonviolent cannabis crimes".

The federal government made a statement against the marijuana industry Thursday.

Funding for such startups has been on an upswing since Colorado's legalization of recreational marijuana use in 2014.

Mr. Sessions' memo already drew the ire of representatives of states where Marijuana is legal.

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". "Once again the Trump administration is doubling down on protecting states' rights only when they believe the state is right", Wyden said in a statement.

The memo refers to the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, where cannabis is classified as a drug in the same category as heroin.

So either Trump lied about protecting marijuana laws and actually wants to crackdown or he just doesn't care about the issue and is just letting Sessions do whatever he wants. As long as Congress doesn't revise the law in accordance with the wishes of voters in at least 29 U.S. states, the Attorney General office is tasked precisely with applying it as is.

The move essentially shifts federal policy from the hands-off approach adopted under the previous administration to unleashing federal prosecutors across the country to decide individually how to prioritize resources to crack down on pot possession, distribution and cultivation of the drug in states where it is legal. She did not elaborate. He threatened to play hardball, even putting a hold on all DOJ nominees, including Colorado's interim U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer, if Sessions proceeds down this path.

U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, a Democrat, derided as "hypocrisy" the policy change from a presidential administration that she accused of "trampling on the will of Nevadans and creating unnecessary confusion for our state". Sessions called the policy "unnecessary", stating that marijuana remains "a risky drug" under federal law and that marijuana activity is "a serious crime".

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. "If they intend to prosecute, it would shut us down".

"My staff and state agencies are working to evaluate reports of the Attorney General's decision and will fight to continue Oregon's commitment to a safe and prosperous recreational marijuana market", Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said. "The biggest growth phase was during the (George W.) Bush administration, when we were facing SWAT team raids, and prosecutions on a almost weekly basis in California". 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.

Wykowski said the fear of prosecution "could make investors more concerned about putting money into the industry".

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