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Feds change marijuana policy, which could affect businesses involved

Feds change marijuana policy, which could affect businesses involved

Even before Attorney General Jeff Sessions moved to roll back protections for state programs legalizing marijuana use, questions about the implications of Pennsylvania's medical marijuana program had begun to gain steam.

The administration believes this is the wrong decision and will review any potential impacts from any policy changes by the local U.S. Attorney's Office.

Sessions, a former Alabama senator, has long viewed pot as a public menace and a source of street crime. Congress would have to change the law for states to be entirely free of federal intervention.

Regulated statewide marijuana markets have provided an economic boost to numerous cities and states - leading to increased tax revenues, tourism, and home values.

"Therefore", he continued, "today's memo on federal marijuana enforcement simply directs all USA 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".

He fears that if the industry operates with a cash market, it could open up the door to the black market or cartels, which Colorado has worked for years to get rid of. The new policy leaves discretion to the local U.S. Attorneys.

Democrat Senator Michael Bennet also issued a statement via Twitter early Thursday morning that read: "In rescinding the Cole memo, the Attorney General failed to listen to Colorado, and will create unnecessary chaos and confusion".

Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey said Thursday that he's encouraged by Sessions' actions.

Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, who represents Colorado, one of eight states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use, said the change contradicts a pledge Sessions made to him before being confirmed as attorney general.

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Yet officials suggested to reporters Thursday that businesses and growers in legalized states have gotten too comfortable and that the primacy of state law means very little in Washington.

Federal prosecutors also sued and prosecuted some nonprofit dispensaries that were raking in money or dealing to people with no medical need, though the latter was hard to prove in a state like California, where regulations were loose at best.

"In deciding which marijuana activities to prosecute under these laws with the Department's finite resources, prosecutors should follow the well-established principles that govern all federal prosecutions", considering the seriousness of a crime and its impact on the community, Sessions told prosecutors in a one-page memo.

It's unclear whether other Republican lawmakers feel the same way about Sessions.

The DOJ reversal, first reported by the Associated Press, appears to break with a Trump campaign promise to respect states' decision on pot legalization.

Trump had said that he would respect voters' rights in places that have elected to modify their drug laws. Joe Pennacchio (R-Morris). "I think it should help us hit the pause button, which is what I've been saying all along". "If Sessions thinks that makes sense in terms of prosecutorial priorities, he is in a very freakish ideological state, or a deeply problematic one". "It should be up to the states, absolutely".

Asked if California could take similar legal action, Becerra said it depends on what the federal government does next. Sessions, the person said, was not immediately committal.

Becky Dansky, a spokeswoman for the Marijuana Policy Project, said that the concerns about 2nd Amendment rights have been raised around the country, but not all states are barring medical marijuana patients from buying firearms, despite the federal gun law.

SHAPIRO: What is the new Trump policy on marijuana? "Colorado had every right to legalize marijuana and I will do everything I can to protect that right against the power of an overreaching federal government". "Nearly two-thirds of Americans support legalizing marijuana use and the numbers are even higher among young people, but Sessions seems to be more fixated on his ideological crusade against marijuana than on facts". They eased up on enforcement except in certain circumstances, when goals were to prevent proceeds from going to drug cartels or prevent distribution to minors.


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