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Federal pot policy change sparks confusion, crackdown fears

08 January 2018

Gardner suggested Sessions had assured him of a continued "hands-off" approach during the former Alabama senator's own nomination hearing.

That leaves some ambiguity as to what happens next, particularly in states that have legalized recreational marijuana, such as Colorado.

Under the state's medical marijuana law enacted in 2014, NY has 1,384 medical practitioners and 40,286 certified patients.

Legal experts do not expect a flood of new cases, and people familiar with the job of USA attorney say prosecutors could decide against using already limited resources to seek criminal charges against cannabis companies that abide by state regulations or their customers.

Mr. Sessions' memo already drew the ire of representatives of states where Marijuana is legal.

Growing Marijuana The Sessions memo includes the word "cultivation", which technically puts the plants in your basement in the same boat as LivWell's 100,000-plus-square-foot warehouse.

"The cultivation, distribution and possession of marijuana has always been and remains a violation of federal law for all purposes", she later said in a statement. But Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom the President once called "beleaguered", is not attending.

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The memo also protected states from federal prosecution under the controlled substance act.

When asked whether the Justice Department was considering suing states that attempt to legalize the drug after this new policy has gone into effect, one senior Justice official said, "Further steps are still under consideration". So far, marijuana is considered a drug as risky as heroine under US Federal Law.

Sessions' move also infuriated Republican U.S. Sen. Sessions has railed against marijuana for years.

"Jeff Sessions told me this wouldn't be a priority".

"Going against the majority of Americans - including a majority of Republican voters - who want the federal government to stay out of the way is perhaps one of the stupidest decisions the Attorney General has made", Blumenauer said in a statement. The president had seemingly supported marijuana on the campaign trail, saying he thought it should be left up to the states.

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. "It should be up to the states, absolutely".

"That would be his top priority, and that is regardless of what the topic is, whether it's marijuana or whether it's immigration", Sanders told reporters.

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In a written statement, the Ohio Department of Commerce, which oversees the program, said it's following guidelines set up in the new law.

David Kopel, an adjunct professor of constitutional law at the University of Denver and research director of the Independence Institute, said Sessions' announcement is sending a shock wave across Colorado, which not only changed its laws, but amended its state constitution to legalize pot.

Prosecutors in Western states wanted guidance from the Justice Department when the likelihood of state marijuana legalization became clear in 2010 and 2011. Prosecutors there have always focused on marijuana crimes that "create the greatest safety threats" and will continue to be guided by that, he said.

The industry's economic contributions means it would be hard to do away with, he said.

Public perceptions of marijuana have shifted over time, and an increasing chunk of the public favors easing restrictions on it.

That reversed the election campaign stance by President Donald Trump favoring state marijuana laws, and set up a potential clash with the six U.S. states that have already moved ahead to legalize pot sales.

The Obama administration Justice Department issued three memos on marijuana between 2009 and 2014.

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Federal pot policy change sparks confusion, crackdown fears