CA bill would bar local cops from aiding federal cannabis crackdown

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A bill introduced in the California legislature by a coalition of Democratic lawmakers would prohibit local police and sheriff’s deputies from aiding in any type of federal crackdown on state-licensed marijuana businesses.

The intent, the bill’s backers say, is to reassure marijuana businesses that they won’t be targeted unfairly by the Department of Justice as long as they comply with state laws, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The measure again underscores the growing disconnect between state and federal marijuana policy, given that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions could technically prosecute law-abiding marijuana businesses for distribution of a controlled substance. And without a clear policy position from the Trump administration on the burgeoning cannabis industry, states have increasingly been taking measures into their own hands.

The bill is largely a response to signals from Trump administration officials – including Sessions and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer – that a federal crackdown is possible for the marijuana industry.

The measure has not yet been heard in committee, and it’s unclear what its chances are of becoming law. If it’s successful, though, the practical effect would be to place much more of a logistical and financial burden on the Drug Enforcement Administration if it should begin widespread raids of marijuana businesses. The DEA often relies on help from local cops for enforcement actions across the country.

And depending on what approach the Trump administration decides to take on cannabis, it’s possible the bill could spur copycat measures in other states with vocally pro-marijuana public officials, such as Oregon, Nevada and Washington.