People in the burgeoning industry say they are confused and uncertain after Attorney General Jeff Sessions shelved an Obama-era policy that advised authorities to tread lightly on enforcing marijuana laws in states that legalized weed. And while Sessions' memo does not instruct federal prosecutors to bring more marijuana cases, he could order stricter enforcement in the future. He threatened to play hardball, even putting a hold on all DOJ nominees, including Colorado's interim U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer, if Sessions proceeds down this path. And it said it won't speculate about federal decisions.
What this does is create an inevitable stand-off over the 10th Amendment rights of seven states and the District of Columbia that have fully legalized cannabis, including California, which officially made pot legal on January 1.
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. Justice Department officials said they would follow the law but would not preclude the possibility of medical-marijuana related prosecutions.
"Parents should be able to give their sick kids the medicine they need without having to fear that they will be prosecuted".
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has strong words for the Trump administration: "We will not be bullied by an administration that seems obsessed with dismantling things that are actually working", reports CBS. The new uncertainty about how prosecutors will deal with this will only make it harder.
"What Jeff Sessions said is he didn't think it was on Trump's agenda to do this, he didn't think President Trump had the bandwidth to do this, and he had no plans to repeal the Cole memorandum", Gardner said in an interview.
"Kate Brown is on our side and that's good to know", McKinley said.
Most state and local officials are waiting to see what happens next, if anything. The city of Coos Bay uses money gathered from pot sales to contribute to law enforcement programs like the South Coast Interagency Narcotics Team, which provides drug education and enforcement to neighborhoods in Coos, Curry and parts of Western Douglas Counties.
The change, he said, removes "clarity and consistency" for an industry that depended on it. Revenue that North Bend collects from cannabis sales goes into its general fund and accounts for around $40,000 of its $28 million budget.
Gillibrand urged fellow lawmakers to support legislation she proposed that would "keep the federal government out of the way when doctors and patients decide that medical marijuana is the best treatment for them".
While many states have decriminalized or legalized marijuana use, the drug is still illegal under federal law, creating a conflict between federal and state law. The goal, he said, was to encourage a tightly regulated industry letting legitimate businesses operate but keeping cartels and gangs out.
In December, Oregon Sen.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rolled back guidelines that helped protect businesses in states where pot is legal.
"You're talking about a huge economic impact", he said.
Prosecutors in Western states wanted guidance from the Justice Department when the likelihood of state marijuana legalization became clear in 2010 and 2011.