Wednesday, 17 October, 2018

Federal pot policy change sparks confusion, crackdown fears

Isabel Fisher | 08 January, 2018, 05:01

"Once again the Trump administration is doubling down on protecting states' rights only when they believe the state is right", Wyden said in a statement.

"There are higher priorities: terrorism and opiates to start with", said Rory Little, a former prosecutor and a professor at the University of California Hastings College of Law. Before Sessions' announcement, experts predicted the US market might reach $50 billion by 2026. Colorado has a new statewide plant-count limit (the cap of twelve applies to everyone including medical patients, unless they receive a plant-count extension from the state), but it falls to local and state law enforcement officials to enforce that.

The weed business has bloomed into a multi-million dollar industry.

Sen. Dan Sullivan said it contradicts previous statements by President Donald Trump but could be the impetus for Congress to find a permanent solution for states that have chosen to regulate marijuana.

Coos County Sherriff Craig Zanni said, "This is now a federal issue related to a change of federal prosecutor's directives". Peter Mlynarik, who is the police chief of Soldotna, Alaska, said it ends the federal government "looking the other way" in legal pot states.

Gardner said he only found out via Twitter that Sessions was changing the policy.

Former Republican Maryland state delegate Don Murphy, who now works in conservative outreach for the Marijuana Policy Project, said the AG's move, presumably sanctioned by Trump, is odd considering the populist wave in favor of decriminalizing marijuana across the country-not only in blue states, but places like Arkansas, the first Bible Belt state to legalize medical marijuana, and with 53 percent of the vote. New Jersey's Governor Elect Phil Murphy has pledged to sign legislation legalizing adult recreational use within 100 days of his new term.

However, Jeff Sessions' stand point is strictly speaking correct. And for medical marijuana, "it is not likely an efficient use of federal resources to focus enforcement efforts on seriously ill individuals or their individual care givers".


Murphy has been working on getting a federal medical marijuana bill passed since 2000. Just Sessions' announcement has already sparked backlash from politicians on both sides of the aisle, he noted.

Sessions revoked that document and others, citing the fact that pot remains illegal under federal law.

As with purchasing and possessing, the federal government could come after you even if you follow Colorado growing rules to the letter of the law - but also as with purchasing and possession, that would be viewed as a waste of resources. This includes veterans, who have been choosing cannabis over prescription pills to treat symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, also urged calm: "I think it will be the case where the bark is going to be worse than the bite".

"This needs to be a state choice".

"Strong as we are on state's rights here in Texas", Williams said. "I had support from members from Kansas, from Utah... not because they were marijuana people but they were 10th Amendment people". But in the aftermath of Sessions' decision, he seems to have backtracked from that position.

Kelley Beaucar Vlahos is executive editor of The American Conservative.

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