losangelesnewstoday.com
losangelesnewstoday.com January 23, 2018


Sessions nixes Obama-era rules leaving states alone that legalize pot

08 January 2018, 02:52 | Katrina Lee

United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington in December. Carolyn Kaster AP

United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington in December

Among companies that have invested in the industry, Scotts Miracle-Gro, a gardening product manufacturer, has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to acquire companies that sell soil, lighting, fertilizer and other products to marijuana growers.

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

Federal law still prohibits marijuana even as some states move to legalize it.

Marijuana is legal in eight states and the District of Columbia for recreational use. 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.

"Going against the majority of Americans - including a majority of Republican voters - who want the federal government to stay out of the way is perhaps one of the stupidest decisions the Attorney General has made", Blumenauer said in a statement.

"We're moving forward as an industry and as a patient organization we're happy that things are moving forward here in Arkansas and we'll let things in D.C. play out as they will", he said.

The potential political fallout may be clearer: Republican Sen. "If something does happen to occur because of this we'll just have to roll with it", owner of the Coos Bay cannabis dispensary Way High 101 Aaron McKinley said. Cory Gardner of Colorado, which like Alaska and California has legalized adult recreational use of marijuana, said he was prepared to hold up the confirmation of Justice Department nominees if Sessions pursued his policy.

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. "California should and will litigate to defend its right to legalize and regulate cannabis". So far, marijuana is considered a drug as unsafe as heroine under US Federal Law.

"That would be his top priority, and that is regardless of what the topic is, whether it's marijuana or whether it's immigration", Sanders told reporters. "There is a belief that that is inconsistent with what federal law says", a senior Department of Justice official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Politico. She did not elaborate.

Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson Thursday criticized the Trump administration's announcement that it is rescinding a federal policy providing legal protection for marijuana sales in states with recreational pot.

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Marty Riske, who backed the North Dakota ballot measure, says he doesn't expect Session's actions to jeopardize the future of the medical marijuana program in this region.

"We believe USA attorneys' offices should be opened up to bring all of these cases that are necessary to be brought". Federal agencies have "not historically devoted resources to prosecuting individuals whose conduct is limited to possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use on private property".

But rescinding the Obama policy could have a chilling effect on the burgeoning marijuana legalization movement.

"It's going to hurt a lot of people if it does slow down, there are just too many people benefiting financially and with their health", said Steve Williams, a marijuana advocate for DFW NORML.

Some prosecutors in legalization states issued statements on how they would proceed.

Opened in 2013, Sweet Relief was Clatsop County's first medical marijuana dispensary and started selling to recreational customers with others in October 2015.

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

The change, he said, removes "clarity and consistency" for an industry that depended on it. "I want the Trump administration to stand by its promises".

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat and co-chairman of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, called Sessions' decision "outrageous".



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