Since Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Cole Memo in early January, there has been quite a bit of uncertainty in the legal cannabis industry. Last Saturday however, Sessions announced that federal prosecutors won’t be taking on any small-scale marijuana cases.
Rather than focus on small-time cannabis cases, Sessions said federal law enforcement will take on larger conspiracies and drug gangs. He mentioned that without the resources to take on “routine cases”, the feds will focus efforts instead where they are needed.
Because long-standing federal law growing, buying, or using marijuana in states where pot is legal there was some confusion to the reversal. Concern was raised that prosecutors may feel empowered to put individuals in jail for cannabis possession.
“I am not going to tell Colorado or California or someone else that possession of marijuana is legal under United States law,” Sessions said, answering student questions after a speech at Georgetown’s law school.
He went on to add that federal prosecutors “haven’t been working small marijuana cases before, they are not going to be working them now.”
Will prosecutors punish state-run permitted cannabis businesses?
“Those are the kinds of things each one of those US attorneys will decide how to handle,” said Sessions.
There hasn’t however, been any indication that there are plans to do so.
Rather than focus on small-time cannabis cases, the federal government will look to tackle problems they’ve been working on for years. Like illegal grow operations in national parks. Gangs that sell weed as well as other harder drugs. The burgeoning black-market some claim has infiltrated into marijuana friendly states.
Sessions announcement isn’t quite a step forward, but it does let those in the legal cannabis industry breathe a little sigh of relief.