Don't Blame Sessions For The Cannabis Crackdown, Blame Congress

Sessions' announcement came via a memo to USA attorneys, in which he referenced the illegality of possessing and distributing marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act.

Sessions announced Thursday that he was rescinding the Cole Memo, which put boundaries on marijuana-related issues that USA attorneys would prosecute. More blunt was the assessment by state Rep. Doug House (R-North Little Rock), who shepherded the medical marijuana policy framework through the legislature and who has worked to find banking institutions that will handle the state's medical cannabis industry.

"Earlier today I met with Attorney General Sessions to further discuss the Justice Department's decision to rescind current policy on legal marijuana enforcement".

The decision comes only a few days after California-the country's most populous state-legalized pot for recreational use for adults 21 and older. But under that guidance, banks could note whether they believed clients in the marijuana industry were operating within the bounds of state laws. A nationwide CBS News poll last April found 61 percent of Americans say marijuana use should be legal.

Sessions rescinded the Cole Memo last Thursday, which was a 2013 Justice Department from then-deputy attorney general James Cole.

The amendment barring federal prosecutors from spending tax dollars to impede states' medical marijuana programs is included in the continuing resolution that is now funding the federal government, said Becky Dansky, a spokeswoman for the Marijuana Policy Project.

In a January 4 press announcement, Coffman urged Sessions to read the Commerce Clause in the U.S. Constitution, which limits the power of the federal government to regulate interstate and intrastate commerce.

With the legal fig leaf provided by the Cole Memo, despite the federal ban on marijuana, state-legal marijuana businesses have been able to take root and grow despite the federal ban on marijuana. In New Hampshire and Vermont, for example, state legislatures voted to legalize possession and cultivation of marijuana shortly after Sessions's announcement.

"It's disappointing to see the administration want to go backwards", the governor said. "The United States Attorney's Office in Montana is guided by these principles in marijuana prosecutions - focusing in particular on identifying and prosecuting those who create the greatest safety threats to our citizens and communities".

On social media, NORML has stressed the same will of the people, focusing on the 64% of Americans who support legalization, according to Gallup, to make its case for reform. Congress is responsible for passing and upholding the CSA, which defines marijuana as a substance that supposedly has no medical benefit and is as unsafe as heroin.

"I can not ... provide assurances that certain categories of participants in the state-level marijuana trade will be immune from federal prosecution", Lelling tells the Globe.

  • Leroy Wright