President Trump is under fire from veterans' groups who are accusing his administration of putting personal politics ahead of their health.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions freed federal prosecutors to go after pot cases as they see fit, even in states where marijuana is legal. Given his recusal - apparently against President Donald Trump's wishes - from the Russian Federation collusion investigation, he seems to be in a vulnerable spot with the President.
"In deciding which marijuana activities to prosecute under these laws. prosecutors should follow the well-established principles that govern all federal prosecutions", Sessions wrote in a memo.
Colorado's US attorney, Bob Troyer, said his office won't change its approach to prosecution, despite Sessions' guidance. The Trump administration, unlike the Obama administration, is committed to the rule of law, enforcing federal regulations rather than ignoring inconvenient ones, as did the Obama Justice Department. He said the action would contradict what Sessions had told him before the attorney general was confirmed and that he was prepared "to take all steps necessary" to fight the step including holding up the confirmation of Justice Department nominees. Many politicians also criticized the move.
But what's the likelihood that individual US attorneys from the 94 federal districts in the USA will actually make marijuana enforcement a priority?
Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee said the state will vigorously defend the state's laws against federal infringement.
Rep. Andy Harris, a physician who is Maryland's sole Republican in Congress, said he supports the move by Sessions. To start off the new year the Teller County Sheriff's Office conducted a search warrant and made a number of arrests for growing marijuana illegally.
Sessions said in a statement: "Today's memo on federal marijuana enforcement simply directs all us 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".
While medical marijuana can't be legally prescribed, possessed, or sold under federal law, its use to treat some medical conditions is legal under many state laws, according to the American Cancer Society.
The revoking of the Cole memo also got criticized by the supporters of the Marijuana Legalization like Erik Altieri - Executive Director of the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws - NORML saying that it "flies in the face of sensible public policy and broad public opinion". This does not amount to much of a substantive change in policy, which begs the question of why Sessions bothered to make the announcement at all. It's no secret he views marijuana as a tool of the devil.
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Sessions has blamed the illegal use of marijuana and heroin for rising violence in America.
"The Cole Memo is a "feel-good" U.S. Dept of Justice guidance that does not actually restrain local U.S. AGs from enforcement but sets department priorities with regard to marijuana, e.g., sales to minors or diversion of product out of state", said Nathaniel Gurien, CEO of FinnCanna, a financial firm for the industry.
And it's for that reason that, even though I favor marijuana legalization, I approve of what Sessions has done.
Sessions's guidance most prominently overturned a 2013 memo from then-Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole, often referred to as the "Cole memo".
The full effect of the Sessions memo isnt immediately clear.
Brian Vicente, a Denver attorney who co-wrote Colorado's 2012 constitutional amendment legalizing recreation marijuana, said the industry will closely examine the background of any new US attorney nominees.
Georgia's General Assembly passed that state's medical marijuana law in 2015.
Could any legal issues arise by asking employees if they're using marijuana for medical purposes?
Protections for medical marijuana remain in effect under a piece of the federal spending law that prevents federal authorities from trying to curtail that aspect of the industry.