Friday, 19 October, 2018

California Commissioner Condemns Session's Move Against Legal Pot

President Donald Trump with his daughter Ivanka at the White House in Washington. Molly Riley  Pool via Getty Images file President Donald Trump with his daughter Ivanka at the White House in Washington. Molly Riley Pool via Getty Images file
Faye Gross | 08 January, 2018, 02:38

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions today rescinded an Obama-era policy that helped legal marijuana thrive in parts of the United States.

Since 2014, Congress has attached amendments to the Justice Department budget forbidding interference with laws in states that allow medical marijuana, a list that began with California in 1996 and has grown to 29 states and the District of Columbia, with a combined 60 percent of the USA population.

Robert Troyer, who was appointed an interim USA attorney for the District of Colorado by Sessions in November, said his office's decisions regarding marijuana cases would be guided by similar principles as before: "focusing in particular on identifying and prosecuting those who create the greatest safety threats to our communities around the state".

The action by Attorney General Jeff Sessions could have damaging consequences for the burgeoning marijuana industry in the six states including California and Colorado that have legalized the drug for recreational use, plus dozens of others that permit medicinal use.

In a tweet, Gardner threatened to retaliate by blocking confirmation of Sessions' nominees for DOJ positions.

The federal government made a statement against the marijuana industry Thursday.

The potential political fallout may be clearer: Republican Sen.

In every state where marijuana has been legalized for recreational purposes, local voters at their respective ballot boxes overwhelmingly supported the move.

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Sessions did not order a new crackdown on pot sales and use, but told federal prosecutors they could act as they see fit in their districts, leaving the course of implementation unclear. "This is a very bad thing and it's very unnecessary, considering what the president said publicly and that we are dealing with an opioid crisis right now", Don Murphy, who actually served as a delegate for Trump and volunteered on his campaign, told TAC. So far, marijuana is considered a drug as risky as heroine under US Federal Law.

Experts note that the governments stance of not interfering with states as they pushed ahead with marijuana legislation was not an iron-clad protection anyway.

Marijuana has never been legal under federal law, and it still isn't. She did not elaborate.

There has been a surge in legalization of marijuana at the state level in recent years.

"If they close down regulated access to cannabis, all they are doing is opening it up to the cartels and the black market", he said. What might that mean for Ohio's medical marijuana program, which is set to be operational in September? Additionally, 95 percent of voters support medical marijuana and 60 percent of voters support full legalization. "Each US attorney now gets to decide what will and will not be prosecuted". Justice Department officials said they would follow the law but would not preclude the possibility of medical-marijuana related prosecutions. "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". According to Quinnipiac polls, almost 75 percent of voters are against the federal government prosecuting people for marijuana in states that have legalized it. "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 change, he said, removes "clarity and consistency" for an industry that depended on it.

"No matter what the (Trump) administration does, states will continue to hand out licenses to a long line of businesses clamoring for them", Dayton said. In legalization states like Colorado, for example, Sessions essentially decreed that citizens may well need to worry that the massive arm of the federal government could come crashing down on them; their local laws be damned.

Bob Egelko and Peter Fimrite are San Francisco Chronicle staff writers.

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