Marijuana ‘Crackdown’ Fears Temper amid Law Enforcement Support for Jeff Sessions’ Reversal of Obama’s Guidance
Sessions’ Thursday memo does away with Cole, returning discretion of prosecution to U.S. attorneys, who may enforce federal law as it is written, with marijuana illegal. CNBC added to the tales of woe for state-sanctioned marijuana businesses Monday, claiming Sessions’ decision would further discourage national financial institutions from participating in these emerging pseudo-legal industries. Individual U.S. attorneys still will exercise their independent prosecutorial discretion in the states that have democratically legalized recreational marijuana, and some legal experts are skeptical of any huge shift in priorities.
The Attorney General is not even pressuring these U.S. Attorneys to start a crackdown. Interestingly, the Attorney General strongly hinted that those U.S. Attorneys could exercise that discretion the same way they had under the Obama Administration guidance he just rescinded. As Mikos notes, the chief federal prosecutor for the state with the most developed recreational marijuana industry, Colorado, has already explicitly endorsed this interpretation.
Today the Attorney General rescinded the Cole Memo on marijuana prosecutions, and directed that federal marijuana prosecution decisions be governed by the same principles that have long governed all of our prosecution decisions. The United States Attorney’s Office in Colorado has already been guided by these principles in marijuana prosecutions – focusing in particular on identifying and prosecuting those who create the greatest safety threats to our communities around the state. We will, consistent with the Attorney General’s latest guidance, continue to take this approach in all of our work with our law enforcement partners throughout Colorado. McClatchy’s Kate Irby reported fears from former law enforcement officials that, without the Cole Memo, the Mexican drug cartels would see a boon in marijuana sales and that a wave of new drug violence might result. Until Congress sees fit to make marijuana legal, the Attorney General and law enforcement have an obligation to enforce current law.
The statement notes that the majority of the MCPA’s membership, made up of the chief law enforcement officers of the 57 of the biggest cities in the United States and Canada, continues to generally oppose marijuana legalization, similarly to several other groups.
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Northern Michigan University offers marijuana degree: “Not easy at all”
Marijuana seen on the road between the municipalities of Toribio and Caloto in the department of Cauca, Colombia, on March 15, 2016. Northern Michigan University in Marquette began its medical plant chemistry program this semester, with about a dozen students in the first class, the Detroit Free Press reported. Other universities offer classes on marijuana policy and law. Places such as Oaksterdam University, Cannabis College, and Humboldt Cannabis College, all in California; and THC University, the Grow School and Clover Leaf University in Denver offer certificates in a variety of disciplines. Northern Michigan’s program is unique because the university is offering a four-year degree addressing the science and business behind growing marijuana.
Brandon Canfield, an associate chemistry professor at Northern Michigan, said students don’t grow marijuana plants in the program, but instead look to other plants that are traditionally recognized with medicinal value but aren’t illegal to grow. Students learn how to measure and extract the compounds in the plants that can be used for medicinal purposes, then transfer that knowledge to marijuana, which has been used to treat a variety of illnesses, including chronic pain, nausea, seizures and glaucoma. Canfield said he got the idea while attending the American Chemical Society’s annual meeting in San Diego last year. University officials say the program fills a need because 29 states have legalized medical marijuana, including eight states where marijuana is also legal for recreational use. In Michigan, voters in 2008 approved the use of marijuana to treat certain illnesses, but the law has confused many and has led to significant legal disputes, including over how to obtain and store the drug.
The state is developing a new regulatory system aimed at increasing oversight and imposing new taxes on the industry. Applications for licenses will be available on Dec. 15.