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California Commissioner Condemns Session's Move Against Legal Pot

California Commissioner Condemns Session's Move Against Legal Pot”

The U.S. Justice Department on Thursday rescinded an Obama administration policy that had eased enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states that legalized the drug, instead giving federal prosecutors wide latitude to pursue criminal charges. "We believe today's development will further galvanize the industry and its supporters at state legislatures and in Washington as it has already begun happening in reaction to Mr. Session's new memo".

Rohrabacher said a better, more permanent solution is a bill he submitted previous year that amends the Controlled Substances Act so it doesn't apply to people who produce, possess or deliver marijuana in compliance with state marijuana laws. His decision would enable federal prosecutors to decide just how aggressively federal law should be enforced in states where marijuana is legal.

Session's move comes after the January 1 implementation of California's Proposition 64, which legalized the sale of recreational marijuana to adults in the state. Cory Gardner, who happens to be a Republican, that he would not take this step.

"Jeff Sessions' obsession with marijuana prohibition defies logic, threatens successful state-level reforms, and flies in the face of widespread public support for legalization", said executive director Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno. Mr. Sessions has not said his office will crack down on state sanctioned cannabis businesses, he said he will leave discretion to the district level USA attorneys.

Sessions has never been a fan of marijuana legalization. It delegated other enforcement of marijuana laws to state and local officials. "We had no idea it was coming, and like you, we woke up this morning to the news that there was new direction from Attorney General Sessions", she said.

The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment that restricts USA attorneys from taking legal action against people who use medical marijuana or produce it was maintained in a last short-term funding bill passed by Congress.

The only legal protection now for medical marijuana growers, processors, sellers and users is a temporary measure sponsored by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) prohibiting the U.S. Department of Justice from using government funds to target them.

"It is the mission of the Department of Justice to enforce the laws of the United States", Sessions said in a statement, which said the Obama-era policy that directed federal prosecutors not to target state marijuana businesses "undermines the rule of law and the ability of our local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement partners to carry out this mission". Other states that permit the regulated sale of marijuana for recreational use include Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Nevada. They had closed down several hundred before Congress intervened with budget restrictions that halted the lawsuits - one of them targeting Harborside Health Center in Oakland, the nation's largest licensed cannabis dispensary - as well as most federal criminal prosecutions.

MedMen, Southern California's largest marijuana retailer, is now selling recreational marijuana for adult use at two locations-one in WeHo and and one in Santa Ana-with three more in the works, in Venice, DTLA, and near LAX. "The biggest growth phase was during the (George W.) Bush administration, when we were facing SWAT team raids, and prosecutions on a almost weekly basis in California".

The industry was projected to generate about $50 billion by 2026 with the expectation that cannabis would be legalized nationwide by that time.

Wykowski said the fear of prosecution "could make investors more concerned about putting money into the industry".

Scutari went on to blast the Trump administration's decision, describing it as an infringement on states' rights.

Leafly contributor Lisa Rough explains that the memo directed federal prosecutors to limit their focus to cannabis distribution to minors, those involved with the black market, and transferring marijuana from a state where it's legal to another state.



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