Sessions Faces Obstacles to Fighting Legal Marijuana
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has not yet laid out a specific plan of action to crack down on marijuana. However, he continues to vocalize strong opposition to state legalization and decriminalization efforts and laws, which currently permit citizens to use marijuana and run cannabis-based businesses. During a radio interview with Hugh Hewitt on October 26, 2017, Sessions said, “the federals laws [regarding marijuana] clearly are in effect in all 50 states.” Sessions went on to explain that he does not believe state laws legalizing marijuana sufficiently negate current federal laws that prohibit citizens from using, possessing, growing, selling, and transporting marijuana.
However, in order to “crack down” on marijuana in states that have made it legal, Sessions would have to find his way around a few key bits of legislation and federal policy.
In 2013, then-Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole issued what has come to be known as the Cole Memo. The Cole Memo permits citizens to lawfully own and operate cannabis businesses as long as they comply with state regulations, unless “state enforcement efforts are not sufficiently robust to protect against the harms set forth above,” which include marijuana use by minors and marijuana-funded criminal enterprises, among other potential social ills. In essence, the Cole Memo delegates enforcement of marijuana laws and regulations to state and local leadership, unless and until state laws are not enough to guard against the negative consequences of legal marijuana, at which point the federal government may intervene.
In House Amendment 332—114th Congress (2015-2016), which has come to be known as the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, lawmakers prohibited the federal government from spending money prosecuting pot in states that have legalized or decriminalized medical marijuana use. However, no such protections have been implemented for recreational marijuana. This ban on federal spending to prosecute marijuana could expire if not renewed, which could prove difficult with Sessions, a staunch marijuana opponent, in the role of Attorney General.
Cannabis Business Law Attorneys in San Diego
In a time when the future of the pot industry is uncertain, compliance is key for cannabis business owners. In order to make sure your business practices line up with state and local regulations, get a cannabis business lawyer on your side immediately.