Is the recent memo issued to federal prosecutors by US Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to use their own judgment when deciding marijuana cases – even in states where cannabis use is legal – merely a tempest in a teapot, or has the leader of the Department of Justice upset the cannabis cart?
Although attributed by multiple news sources, including the Associated Press (AP), as having “lifted an Obama-era policy that kept federal authorities from cracking down on the pot trade in states where the drug is legal,” Sessions claims his intention is merely a “return to the rule of law.”
The actual wording of the actual memo, sent by Sessions to federal prosecutors, was:
“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.”
Hard to interpret, isn’t it? All we need now is the Federal Prosecutor’s Legal Handbook so we know what this ominous-sounding statement really means.
Sessions was sworn in on February 9, 2017. His boss, President Donald Trump, while campaigning before the 2016 election, said pot is a state issue. His silence now implies consent of the AG’s “hard line” against all demon maryjane.
Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) told Politico:
“If we don’t take action and hold President-elect Trump accountable, in one fell swoop, the federal government could damage state economies, and discourage entrepreneurship—placing some of our innovators behind bars, all while eroding states’ rights.”
US News reported that top federal prosecutors like Colorado’s U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer say they will carry on with business as usual, despite the Sessions memo. Other justice officials will not rule out persecuting – that is, prosecuting – medical marijuana providers.
Encouraging federal prosecutors to abide by the letter, rather than the spirit, of the law, means that legal, tax-paying entities are at equal risk of being “investigated” (read: raided) by the federales. In fact, since their identities and addresses are on file, they are easier targets for federal harassment – that is, scrutiny.
Nervous pot shop owners and cannabis investors reacted to the Sessions memo by sending MJ stocks plummeting on January 4, 2018 – some as much as 35%, according to Business Insider.
However, pot stocks closed mixed today: ETFMH Alternative Harvest ETF did a fall-rise-fall during the day (January 4, 2018), while TRTC Terra Tech Corp fell from 42 cents to 28 cents in the past two days, with no rally.
Are Big Bankers leveraging Sessions’ well-known hatred for all things cannabis (he still believes it is a gateway drug, for example) to keep the stock market pumped up with illegal drug money laundering cash revenues? We may never know.
It is depressing to think about so many US states having to return to the days of fighting for marijuana freedoms they have been enjoying – liberties that pay off, literally, to the tune of $6.7 BILLION (with a ‘B’) of national revenue in 2016, projected to be near $10 billion (there’s that word again) in 2017. We’ll know as soon as the money is counted.
It does look like Sessions is a throw-back, an antiquarian, perhaps even a curmudgeon. Even Trump won’t make eye contact with his reactionary minion.
Mr. Sessions might well be advised to put his finger on the national pulse – and wallet – where matters marijuana are concerned.
The prevailing wind is pro-legalization among the states. It’s also a race between backers of federal legalization versus prohibitionists. A Salon article from last August covered a bill to legalize marijuana on the national level, introduced to Congress by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ). The purpose behind this new law is to:
“retroactively expunge people who have been convicted of use and possession of marijuana,” “[create] incentive[s] for states to change their laws, which will stop them from enforcing the law in an unjust manner,” and “[give] communities devastated by marijuana laws will be able to apply for reinvestment funds, to help pay for community centers, public libraries, youth centers, and other infrastructure and social needs.”
What’s not to like?
This is what We the People need: freedom from cannabis convictions, not the squanderous frittering of federal resources on petty pot charges. Federal prosecutors can already bust big-time criminal drug rings. Why adopt this provocative stance unless Mr. Sessions is planning an all-out assault on the useful plant with a thousand names?
Oh, Cannabis, we stand on guard for thee.