Federal input on pot industry is wise


Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in September that the marijuana policy was under review for possible changes.

Gardner says he plans to stick to a promise to block all nominees to the Department of Justice, including U.S. Marshals, and U.S. attorneys from other states until federal forces let up on the issue.

This week, a majority of the state's 17 open medical marijuana dispensaries notified customers that they would no longer accept debit card payments, with some of them citing a decision by their card payment processor or U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling's statements saying that no aspect of the state-sanctioned marijuana industry is immune from federal prosecution. "And I guarantee you all the tax money the state of Maine from medical marijuana really helps people all around". "Prosecution of drug possession cases has not been a priority".

This directly impacts the 29 states that have legalized medical marijuana.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week rescinded the so-called Cole Memorandum, an Obama-era Justice Department policy that kept Washington's hands off legal marijuana operations in states. What will happen to those folks, among others currently engaged with the industry, has now been thrown into a new state of uncertainty by Sessions' move.

And Congress didn't do anything to protect those states when the position of attorney general fell to Sessions.

Sessions' move allows federal prosecutors to decide what to do when state rules conflict with federal.

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Essentially, the memoranda instructed federal prosecutors that in states that had legalized marijuana, prosecutors should use their prosecutorial discretion and focus not on businesses that comply with state regulations but instead focus on illicit enterprises and activities that create harm to the public such as selling marijuana to children, operating with criminal gangs, selling across state lines, and so on.

During the 2016 presidential race, President Trump said he favored medicinal use of marijuana and said the recreational question should be left to individual states.

Local pot shops are preparing for a crackdown on federal drug agents despite the legalization of recreational marijuana. As such, there is renewed eagerness by both medicinal and recreational marijuana advocates to shore up the industry's legal standing and the shock caused by the DOJ's move last week. Formerly an assistant commissioner of Treasury's Bureau of Prohibition, Anslinger turned to crusading against drugs, particularly marijuana.

That means any kind of marijuana use, even in minuscule amounts, would be prohibited under federal law. "I think it should be up to the states, absolutely". The Obama administration preferred to duck a fight with state governments, while the Trump administration seems to be courting one.

A similar ban already exists for medical marijuana.

Across the aisle from the Republican governor, the Democratic speaker of the house said Monday that Lelling's statement brings uncertainty to the entrepreneurs and investors who are compliant with MA law.