States Won't Back Down From Sessions On Marijuana

Sen. Lindsey Graham

Robert Troyer, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado and the man who decides how to enforce federal cannabis laws here, issued a statement shortly after Sessions issued his memo, saying that his office had already been operating under the principles Sessions outlined, and would continue focusing on the "greatest safety threats to our communities around the state".

"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. "I can't sit here and say whether or not it will or won't lead to more marijuana prosecutions", one anonymous official said.

The state's former "marijuana czar", Andrew Freedman, said Sessions' only point was to create confusion but that the Justice Department can not force states to make pot illegal.

In a 2016 interview with a local reporter in Colorado, which legalized recreational cannabis five years ago, then-candidate Trump insisted he would not allow his AG to override state law by prosecuting marijuana businesses and growers.

"We've got to be sure we pass legislation that puts in place permanent protections", Titus said.

"This extremely misguided action will enable a federal crackdown on states' rights with regard to marijuana policy", said Matthew Schweich, interim head of the Marijuana Policy Project. They hoped to avoid a patchwork of prosecution strategies, Walsh said. He said he opposed legalization at the ballot box but his office defended the law against lawsuits once it passed.

"By not having that (banking) access they tend to be an all-cash business and that's subject to more criminality, and it makes it more hard to collect taxes because without a banking relationship you don't have an audit trail", Coffman said.

It's unclear now how the Justice Department's move will impact recreational and medical marijuana markets around the country.

More news: Pakistan promises 'cold-blooded' response to Trump's abrupt aid cut

Colorado's USA attorney, Bob Troyer, said his office won't change its approach to prosecution, despite Sessions' guidance. "Jeff Sessions told me the policy would not be reversed, and today Jeff Sessions went back on his word", Republican senator Cory Gardner of Colorado told Yahoo News.

"One wonders if Trump was consulted - it is Jeff Sessions after all - because this would violate his campaign promise not to interfere with state marijuana laws".

That leaves some ambiguity as to what happens next, particularly in states that have legalized recreational marijuana, such as Colorado.

Experts say they think the multi-billion dollar business now legal in some form in a majority of states is too large to bust.

Coos County Sherriff Craig Zanni said, "This is now a federal issue related to a change of federal prosecutor's directives".

"Jeff Sessions told me this wouldn't be a priority".

Congress voted in its last session to extend a spending provision known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, which blocks the Justice Department from using federal funds to impede the implementation of state medical marijuana laws.

Although Sessions gave permission to prosecute marijuana cases, a Justice Department official believes that he did not demand prosecutions or threaten the marijuana industry, NBC reports.

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