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 Legalized Marijuana Use Threatened
Posted by CN Staff on January 04, 2018 at 11:10:42 PT
By Matt Zapotosky and Sari Horwitz 
Source: Washington Post 

cannabis Washington, D.C. -- Attorney General Jeff Sessions has rescinded several Obama-era directives that discouraged enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states that had legalized the substance.

In a memo sent to U.S. attorneys Thursday, Sessions noted that federal law prohibits the possession and sale of marijuana, and he undid four previous Obama administration memos that advised against bringing weed prosecutions in states where it was legal to use for recreational or medical purposes. Sessions said prosecutors should use their own discretion — taking into consideration the department’s limited resources, the seriousness of the crime, and the deterrent effect that they could impose — in weighing whether charges were appropriate.

“It is the mission of the Department of Justice to enforce the laws of the United States, and the previous issuance of guidance undermines the rule of law and the ability of our local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement partners to carry out this mission,” Sessions said in a statement. “Therefore, today’s memo on federal marijuana enforcement simply directs all U.S. Attorneys to use previously established prosecutorial principles that provide them all the necessary tools to disrupt criminal organizations, tackle the growing drug crisis, and thwart violent crime across our country.”

The move, first reported by the Associated Press, potentially paves the way for the federal government to crack down on the burgeoning pot industry — though the precise impact remains to be seen. It also might spark something of a federalist crisis, and it drew some resistance even from members of Sessions’s own party.

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) said on Twitter the move “directly contradicts what Attorney General Sessions told me prior to his confirmation,” and he threatened to impede the nomination of Justice Department leaders in response.

“With no prior notice to Congress, the Justice Department has trampled on the will of the voters in CO and other states,” he wrote. “I am prepared to take all steps necessary, including holding DOJ nominees, until the Attorney General lives up to the commitment he made to me prior to his confirmation.”

Marijuana already was illegal under U.S. law, though the advice against bringing such cases in states that approve its use and sale had created an uneasy moratorium between local and federal authorities. Local leaders had long criticized Sessions stance on marijuana, and even President Trump had said on the campaign trail in 2016 he believed the matter should be left “up to the states.”

Eight states and the District of Columbia have laws allowing for personal pot consumption, according to NORML, a group which advocates legalization and tracks pot-related legislation, and many more permit the use of medical marijuana. Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a statement he was “disappointed and troubled” by Sessions’s decision.

“Over the past year, Sessions has demonstrated a stunning lack of knowledge about our state’s marijuana laws,” Ferguson said, adding, “I pledge to vigorously defend the will of the voters in Washington state.”

In a briefing with reporters, a senior Justice Department official said it was unclear whether the new directive “will or won’t” lead to more prosecutions, because that will be up to individual U.S. attorneys across the country. But the official said the previous guidance “created a safe harbor for the marijuana industry to operate in these states,” and that was inconsistent with federal law.

So far, Trump has nominated 58 people, 46 of whom have been confirmed by the Senate, to be U.S. attorneys. On Wednesday, Sessions picked 17 more to serve in interim posts, including in Nevada, California, and Washington, where marijuana is legal.

Sessions’s Justice Department has long taken a hard line stance against marijuana, even effectively blocking the Drug Enforcement Administration from taking action on more than two dozen requests to grow marijuana to use in research.

Sessions has said in the past he did not believe marijuana should be legalized, even suggesting at an appearance last year that medical marijuana had been “hyped, maybe too much.” He and top Justice Department officials had been reviewing the 2013 guidance from then Deputy Attorney James Cole and related memos directing federal prosecutors to effectively back off marijuana enforcement in states that had legalized the substance and had a system in place to regulate it.

His new directive also ostensibly affects medical marijuana, though other prosecution guidelines might dissuade prosecutors from actually bringing a case against someone using the substance for medical purposes.

“Attorney General Sessions’s reported decision is a direct attack on patients,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).

In practice, the previous guidance meant U.S. attorneys in jurisdictions that had legalized marijuana at the state level were often reluctant to bring marijuana cases — though Cole’s memo stressed Congress had determined it to be an illegal drug that provided significant revenue to gangs. They might now be more willing to consider such prosecutions — though they will still potentially have to contend with jurors sympathetic to defendants whose conduct would not be illegal under state law.

The Drug Enforcement Administration, too, does not necessarily consider marijuana its highest priority in every jurisdiction, though agents do feel it is problematic in some areas, including in states where it is legal, an official said.

Pro-marijuana advocates have long been critical of Sessions’s views on the topic, though his latest directive might also upset those in his own party. Asked by a Colorado TV station in 2016 about using federal authority to shut down sales of recreational marijuana, President Trump said, “I wouldn’t do that, no,” but he was noncommittal on whether he would block his attorney general from doing so.

Sessions’s move could have significant economic impacts, injecting even more uncertainty into investors already apprehensive about what the Justice Department might do when it comes to legal pot.

“If the Trump administration goes through with a crackdown on states that have legalized marijuana, they will be taking billions of dollars away from regulated, state-sanctioned businesses and putting that money back into the hands of drug cartels,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal.

Some pro-pot advocates, too, sought to cast the move as a continuation of Sessions’s war on drugs. Early in his tenure, he reversed another Obama-era directive and instructed prosecutors to pursue the most serious, readily provable charge — even if that might trigger stiff mandatory minimum penalties for drug crimes.

Matt Zapotosky covers the Justice Department for the Washington Post's National Security team.

Sari Horwitz covers the Justice Department, law enforcement and criminal justice issues nationwide for The Washington Post, where she has been a reporter for 33 years.

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2 hours ago, Kingdiamond said:

Jeff Sessions is a piece of garbage.

Misguided and uninformed might be a better description. He is just operating on debunked ideas that have been prevalent in the US for half a century. I can't blame him for a point of view that has been promoted for decades. Give him time. He will eventually come around to enlightenment. We have to understand that he, and millions like him, have never experienced  marijuana. Everything they know about marijuana comes from false statements promulgated by special interests who did not have the best interests of society in mind. They thought they were doing the right thing, but they never understood the ramifications of making a popular, totally innocuous substance illegal.

I suspect that conservatives lay the blame for all liberal ideas at the feet of marijuana. Extreme ignorance on display...

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5 hours ago, AmishRnot4ganja said:

Misguided and uninformed might be a better description. He is just operating on debunked ideas that have been prevalent in the US for half a century. I can't blame him for a point of view that has been promoted for decades. Give him time. He will eventually come around to enlightenment. We have to understand that he, and millions like him, have never experienced  marijuana. Everything they know about marijuana comes from false statements promulgated by special interests who did not have the best interests of society in mind. They thought they were doing the right thing, but they never understood the ramifications of making a popular, totally innocuous substance illegal.

I suspect that conservatives lay the blame for all liberal ideas at the feet of marijuana. Extreme ignorance on display...

Give him time? Seriously?

 

No, we wait patiently for him to die like much of the racist south.

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53 minutes ago, oldirongut said:

The Dog Is Off The Leash

We have a local mayor like that. She has no power. Just a general hatred complex. The people in the community decided they want cannabis in it so they sat the mayor over in the corner to watch. She might have a bark but she has no bite when the people know the truth about cannabis. How embarrassing it must be for her and Sessions. 

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jeff sessions, much like chris christie, already know all about marijuana and are still against it.

 

trump is a liar. the quicker you understand this, the quicker you will realize you got lied to. its ok to be fooled by a lie. but you have to learn from this and not get lied to again.
 

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On 1/4/2018 at 6:14 PM, shishka said:

Well let's not give him all the credit. Someone did put him in position to do just this very thing. Thanks trump. 

Please do not call Jeff Sessions a hillbilly, he is NOT a hillbilly, he is a "cracker" from the far south, hillbillies are from Appalachia and are much smarter and much more skilled than ANY CRACKER could ever be. Hillbillies do NOT say Y'all, hillbillies say: yourines or you'uns, never Y'all, that word is very strictly "cracker", think, FL,AL,MS,SC,LA,GA,TX, etc.   Hillbilly: eastern TN,east KY,W.Va, western VA,NC, think m ountains LOL!!!

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California Defiant in Face of Federal Move
Posted by CN Staff on January 05, 2018 at 13:50:32 PT
By Thomas Fuller 
Source: New York Times 

cannabis San Francisco -- The sale of recreational cannabis became legal in California on New Year’s Day. Just four days later, the Trump administration acted in effect to undermine that state law by allowing federal prosecutors to be more aggressive in prosecuting marijuana cases.

A memo by Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday was widely interpreted in the nation’s most populous state as the latest example of Trump vs. California, a multifront battle of issues ranging from immigration to taxes to the environment.

And on marijuana, once again California reacted with defiance.

“There is no question California will ultimately prevail,” Gavin Newsom, the lieutenant governor of California, said. “The public has accepted legalization’s inevitability. It will be very difficult for Sessions to bring us back to a mind-set that existed five years or a decade ago.”

The head of California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control, Lori Ajax, said legalization would proceed as planned, “consistent with the will of California’s voters.”

Although medical marijuana is legal in some form in 29 states and recreational marijuana is sold in six states, it remains banned by the federal government and is classified in the same category as heroin.

It is too early to tell how federal prosecutors around the country will interpret the Sessions memo, which rescinded guidance by the Obama administration that had discouraged the bringing of charges involving marijuana-related crimes in states that have legalized the drug.

The memo reminded prosecutors that “marijuana activity is a serious crime.” Mr. Sessions said in a statement that “stricter enforcement by prosecutors will help tackle the growing drug crisis, and thwart violent crime across our country.”

Leading voices in California’s marijuana industry said Thursday that while the announcement by Mr. Sessions might have punctured some of the excitement surrounding legalization, it did not change their plans to take part in what is the world’s largest legal market for recreational pot.

“This has changed zero on the ground for us,” said Steve DeAngelo, the executive director of Harborside, a company with dispensaries in Oakland and San Jose.

“I don’t think this is going to result in any serious attempt to shut down the legal cannabis industry,” Mr. DeAngelo said. “It’s more of a delaying tactic than a knife to the throat of the industry.”

Californians approved Proposition 64, which allowed for recreational use of the drug, by a 57 percent to 43 percent margin in a November 2016 ballot initiative.

Carla Lowe, the Northern California director for the advocacy group Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana, said she hoped the Sessions memo would focus attention on a drug that was being produced at much higher levels of potency than in previous decades.

“I’m concerned what this is doing to developing brains in young people,” she said.

“I would hope this would get the attention of some of the people who are law-abiding citizens,” Ms. Lowe said. “But I don’t know that there’s much hope in California.”

Lawyers who specialize in cannabis said they were skeptical that federal prosecutors would be more aggressive in California for several reasons, including a perceived reluctance of jurors in the state to convict marijuana cases, especially small-scale ones, that do not involve other crimes. Lawyers also point out that the Trump administration has not yet appointed its own federal prosecutors in California.

Additionally, lawyers said the Justice Department is constrained by the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which has been attached to congressional budget bills in recent years, and prohibits the Justice Department from spending money on the implementation of state medical cannabis laws.

“The message to the industry is that nothing has really changed,” said Sean McAllister, a lawyer who specializes in cannabis cases in California and Colorado. “The industry has flourished in an environment of uncertainty for the past 20 years. Sessions’s memo does not create any additional uncertainty that did not already exist.”

But the uncertainty is nonetheless substantial. The Sessions announcement may give further pause to large companies that have been reluctant to invest in the marijuana business because of fear of retaliation by federal authorities. And small-scale veterans of the industry — the cottage marijuana businesses in the famed Emerald Triangle of Northern California, among others — face potential threats of forfeiture, as they always have. If prosecutors were to crack down, sellers and anyone caught in possession of the drug could go to jail.

Yet as a practical matter, officials from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration have said that combating opioid trafficking is much more important than cracking down on marijuana given the agency’s stretched resources.

Russ Baer, a spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration, said in an interview last year that most of the agency’s resources were being spent on combating opioids. “We are spread thin,” he said.

Local law enforcement is also stretched. Thomas D. Allman, the sheriff of Mendocino County, one of the three counties in the Emerald Triangle, said Thursday that investigating marijuana cultivation was not a high priority, unless it was “out of control” or involved other crimes, such as the environmental damage.

“If somebody is obeying state law, I’m going to say there are not many local law enforcement agencies who are going to be rushing out to do an investigation,” Sheriff Allman said. “There are many other crimes we can focus on that impact the safety of the community.”

Hezekiah Allen, the executive director of the California Growers Association, a cannabis industry group, says while marijuana growers are concerned about the more aggressive federal posture, longtime growers have seen it before.

“Folks that have been at this for a few generations remember that this is a cycle,” Mr. Allen said. “Federal enforcement ebbs and flows and it has for decades. This is another enforcement cycle but this time we have a state government that is working with us. And frankly enforcement wasn’t all that effective in the past.”

On Thursday, among customers at the Berkeley Patients Group, a dispensary that sells recreational marijuana, there was defiance and eye-rolling among those asked about the Sessions memo.

“To me, they’ve always wanted to destroy everything Obama did. It’s all in that vein,” said Barry Alexander, 61, a supervisor at a Whole Foods supermarket. Mr. Alexander was skeptical that the Trump administration could do much to change legalization in California. “We’re like Texas, we’re our own country,” he said.

Ian Carr, 23, a construction worker who bought cannabis at another dispensary in Berkeley, the Cannabis Buyers Club, shrugged off the prospect of a federal crackdown.

“I’ve been using marijuana since before it was legal,” he said. “So I’d just go back to that.”

Sonner Kehrt contributed reporting from Berkeley, Calif.

A version of this article appears in print on January 5, 2018, on Page A15 of the New York edition with the headline: Faced With the Threat of Enforcement, Californians Are, Like, Whatever.

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Well, ffs!!

The bs never ends. Another politician that's been brainwashed by 100 years of prohibition based on lies and greed.

Hmmm... Politicians.. Lies and greed...all that money lost through the inability to steal from those that need it.

I'd just love for him to see what it's like to never be comfortable, always feel pain, making THE CHOICE TO NOT USED MEDICAL HEROIN, with no hope of the pain lessening but only get worse.

X Small minded

X Greedy

X Liar

X Brainwashed, due to being weak of mind

X Doesn't give two flying farts about anybody that needs it- would rather keep his Phizer checks coming in from lethal (legal, but lethal is a better fit) medications (federally speaking)

Yep, he checks all the politician-qualification boxes.  He's a perfect fit for the next candidate to bend me over (probably won't even give a second thought to the groans of pain I'll make, will only turn him on)

These f$$$faces could get no other jobs.  Where else can you get a job where you get paid off (like a waiter- makes most his money off tips), have sex scandals left and right (nice perk, there😬), have no expectations placed on you to accomplish anything, and get to be the boss of everyone!  

Who cares what the people expect you to do, because as soon as your in the driver's seat, good luck to the people trying to get you out

Edited by Phil69
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21 hours ago, cristinew said:

Does anyone of our reps  stand up for us?  I know  Peters and Stabbinaw  are worthless.  Maybe someone from our state rep

will help us on this, I see other states there reps are speaking out  Not here.

They're waiting to see which side has the money

All two-faced, cheating, lying snakes.

Talk to one and see how they butter your buns, until the talk to the next guy and does a 180 on what he told you

Lies, lies and more lies

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