Jeff Sessions' Pledge to Target Legal Marijuana Draws Ire of Libertarians

If Mr. Gardner desires that the federal government take a lenient approach with regard to the possession, manufacture and distribution of marijuana, the more, in my view, correct and proper strategy is to amend the Controlled Substances Act and the manner in which that statute classifies marijuana.

"That underpinning is gone", he said, referring to a memorandum written by an assistant attorney general in the Obama administration urging prosecutors not to prosecute marijuana growers, sellers and users.

In 1932, when Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis deemed USA states "laboratories" for democracy, he couldn't have known that those labs would one day be filled with hydroponic weed. In Colorado, teen marijuana use dropped sharply after legalization, suggesting the drug's allure may be inversely proportional to the chance mom and dad are allowed to do it. And at least one expressed hope that this action would push Congress to ultimately legalize cannabis. They become state-licensed drug dealers, that are still operating illegally under federal law.

Until Sessions' announcement on Thursday, federal prosecutors followed guidelines laid out in the so-called Cole memo, which was issued by the Justice Department during the Obama administration.

The state has filed several dozen lawsuits against the Trump administration over various regulatory disputes, marijuana being just one that reignited last week.

The Cole memo had cleared up some of the uncertainty about how the federal government would respond as states began allowing sales for medical and recreational purposes. Colorado Republican Senator Corey Gardner basically called Sessions a liar on the Senate floor and is threatening to stall all Justice Department nominees.

In 2011, California's four US attorneys announced that they were going after the state's "widespread and illegal marijuana industry". According to an October Gallup poll, 64% of Americans now believe marijuana should be legalized, up from only 48% as recently as 2012.

Sessions revoked that document and others, citing the fact that pot remains illegal under federal law.

"With no prior notice to Congress, the Justice Department has trampled on the will of the voters in CO and other states", he said in a Tweet. "Where there is a conflict between state and federal law, federal law prevails", he wrote.

It could be a very significant decision, depending on how it is enforced, says Lawrence Gostin, a professor of law and the director of the O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University.

Twenty-nine states - plus Washington, D.C., and the USA territories of Guam and Puerto Rico - allow for comprehensive public medical marijuana programs. Additionally, the protection for medical marijuana disappears if the amendment is not renewed. However, what is somewhat uncommon is to see a President tacitly approving a major shift in policy (and perhaps practice) that potentially negatively affects not only a growing business segment in multiple states, but also flies in the face of promises made on the campaign trail and angers members of his own party who see it as a rise in the overreach of federalism.

Marijuana advocates are trying to get Rohrabacher-Farr included in the next spending bill passed by Congress. Medical patients were allowed to have 12 plants or more in certain situations.

Critics of the bill, including many Democrats and public safety professionals, argue that the measure is a blatant attack on the rights of states, which now have the ability to choose which out-of-state permits to recognize. Six pot shops confirmed they were selling recreational marijuana Saturday after receiving their state licenses the day before.

"Marijuana, a harmful drug, remains illegal under federal law", Harris said in a statement.

Vanessa Coleman

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