AG Sessions: US prosecutors won’t bother with ‘small marijuana cases’

Federal prosecutors won’t take on small-time marijuana cases, despite the Justice Department’s decision to lift an Obama-era policy that discouraged U.S. authorities from cracking down on cannabis businesses in states where the drug is legal, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said over the weekend.

Federal law enforcement lacks the resources to take on “routine cases” and will continue to focus on drug gangs and larger conspiracies, Sessions said.

Sessions’ comments come after he announced in January he was throwing out the so-called Cole Memo.

The marijuana policy guide essentially allowed state-legal cannabis business to operate without fear of federal interference if they complied with state laws and didn’t allow cannabis to leak into the black market or get into the hands of minors.

The termination of the Cole Memo added to confusion about whether it’s OK to grow, buy or use marijuana in states where marijuana is legal, since longstanding federal law prohibits it.

Sessions’ decision also caused concern that prosecutors would feel empowered to jail individuals for marijuana possession.

“I am not going to tell Colorado or California or someone else that possession of marijuana is legal under United States law,” Sessions told students after a speech at Georgetown University’s law school.

But, he added, federal prosecutors “haven’t been working small marijuana cases before, they are not going to be working them now.”

Of particular interest to the DOJ are problems that federal authorities have tried for years to tackle, such as illegal marijuana-growing operations on national parklands and gangs that peddle pot along with more harmful drugs.

It remains to be seen whether prosecutors will seek to punish state-sanctioned marijuana businesses.

Sessions told the students it’s up to U.S. attorneys to “decide how to handle” state-legal marijuana businesses.

But some federal prosecutors already have indicated they have no plans to crack down on such businesses.

– Associated Press

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7 comments on “AG Sessions: US prosecutors won’t bother with ‘small marijuana cases’
  1. Brett Von Bergen on

    Still real bullsh**ty, this “back down” shouldn’t pull the wool over the sheep’s eyes-meaning you- just because some state prosecutors indicate they won’t crack down doesn’t provide any guarantee’s in the future or for any legal protections. Until the LAWS are changed at the Federal level cannabis will continue to be an illegally manufactured and sold product. Don’t get comfortable and ignorance/civil disobedience doesn’t keep you out of prison!

  2. ian humphry on

    Sessions is an A-hole who is just flexing a little (and i mean little) muscle. Trump has already stated his support for medical MJ and is not going to let Sessions mess with it, Trump may be the president, but at his core, he is a business man, and the numbers dont lie, Trump is not going to let Sessions mess with the tax revenue that MMJ generates for the states, its just a matter of time before its nationwide. i dont use MMJ but i am a supporter and a believer of the medicinal benefits it contains. how can you argue the fact, that when science has enabled us to extract certain properties and give them to a toddler that suffered over 100 seizures a day and the seizures become almost non existent, that there is no benefit. (i think it was called Charlottes web) . now this toddler is like 8 or 9 or something and i think through attys she is active in the pro MMJ movement. Cmon TRUMP, do the right thing, remove the MJ from the schedule 1 list. Use executive action if you have to,its the right thing to do.

  3. Clayton Parker on

    This whole MJ thing is simply another governmental hoax foisted on the American public. It didn’t become illegal until the repeal of prohibition in 1933. The son-law of some honcho was in charge of the agency that policed illegal booze, and then when booze became legal, it severely limited the usefulness of this department, so they criminalized MJ to keep this guy employed. Same thing with hemp, a useful substance used in the creation of fabrics for industrial use. This stifled the business of Pierre DuPont (DuPont Chemical), the creator of synthetic fabrics, so the government eliminated it so he could create his empire unimpeded.

  4. Dr. Francis Boero on

    It looks like Mr. Sessions is trying to save face and walk-away from a no-win situation in the current political climate. “Leaving it to the US attorneys” is uncomfortable for the industry, but it leads to essentially no change. Think of the options.

    –In states with restrictive laws and low adult cannabis use (<5% of population under NSDUH–think Alabama) the US Attorneys will prosecute, but have nothing to prosecute.

    –In states with legal medical and no adult-use and moderate adult cannabis use (think Florida or Michigan), US Attorneys may prosecute, but at what cost? These are borderline states for Republicans. The registered number of patients is approximately 2% of state population. Any action against MMJ patients is a loser, both politically and in the media.

    –In states with full legalization (think West Coast), actions by the US Attorneys will be met by two constituencies: MMJ patients and citizens who are seeing MJ tax go to schools and other public funds. Already, we have seen Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado apply political pressure.

    –In provinces of a neighbor country, Canada, that figured out that all current cannabis prohibitions create more problems than they solve. Mr. Sessions can only repeat "Good people don't smoke marijuana…". He will then tune back to Fox and Friends while Canada allows investment, funds research, and fosters good businesses.

  5. Paul Sorensen on

    This is all so stupid. I hate seeing my tax dollars spent for something that I am so against.
    If the DEA wants to spend time stopping meth and heroin, that’s fine with me.
    But just leave pot alone. Looking back in 5 years, this will all be so laughable. (actually, it already is)

    • buddy on

      Well put and may I add if I were Sessions, I would go so far as to have someone tasting my food before I ate it. Just saying….he is messing with a lot of crazy people out there and when it comes to the amount of money those crazy people have invested…..whew…..karma

  6. Christopher Simmons on

    He’s trying to save his ass, as most politicians in a no win situation do.
    He is impeding economic and scientific progress with his archaic “Cheech and Chong” consciousness as it relates to the wonderful medicinal plant that the Creator bestowed upon humanity.

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