Published: Sat, January 06, 2018
Economy | By Shawn Conner

Feds change marijuana policy, which could affect businesses involved

Feds change marijuana policy, which could affect businesses involved

The move escalates some compelling legal and policy questions about an issue with constitutional implications.

"The majority of US states have legalized medical cannabis to at least some extent, and 1 in five Americans now live in states that have legalized recreational cannabis as well".

Currently, eight states have approved the controlled legalized sales of marijuana after state voters directly approved the measures.

Along with Colorado, recreational use of marijuana is legal in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, California, Maine and Masachussetts and in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C. Another 21 USA states permit the use of marijuana for medical reasons. Twenty-two other states only allow for medical cannabis, including: Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia.

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Federal laws banning the cultivation, distribution and possession of marijuana "reflect Congress' determination that marijuana is a risky drug and that marijuana activity is a serious crime", Sessions said in a memo to USA attorneys. As a response, then deputy attorney general James Cole issued a memorandum in 2013 - known as "the Cole memo" - through the Department of Justice.

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Fox News contributor and former Utah congressman Jason Chaffetz says Attorney General Jeff Sessions "needs to go" in order to fix "major systemic problems" in the Department of Justice.

There was no mention in the Sessions memo about how the USA attorneys should deal with marijuana production and sales where it is legal for recreational and medical use under state law.

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Given that Sessions continues to adhere to the meritless belief that pot is just as unsafe as heroin, this development hardly qualifies as a surprise.

"This development is an undeniable negative for the cannabis industry as it further clouds the already murky interplay between federal and state laws". Instead of deferring to local laws, Attorney General Jeff Sessions will allow federal prosecutors discretion in deciding how to deal with weed. Sessions in the memo called the Obama guidance "unnecessary".

Sessions's long-dreamed-of crackdown has been expected by critics since he was confirmed a year ago. A spokesperson for the Justice Department said the information was not true.

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, who has sponsored a bill to legalize marijuana at the federal level, called the move by Sessions a "backwards policy". Murphy's campaign estimated that New Jersey could collect roughly $300 million annually by taxing weed sales, money Murphy needs to help pay for his other policy promises, such as a boost in funding for schools and public worker pensions. His action will now let federal prosecutors in those states decide how aggressively to enforce federal marijuana laws.

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