Sunday, 21 January, 2018

Federal prosecutors could stunt growth of Arkansas medical marijuana industry

Senator Cory Gardner Senator Cory Gardner
Melinda Barton | 12 January, 2018, 17:09

Sessions rescinded an Obama-era policy that discouraged federal prosecutors from pursuing marijuana-related charges in states where pot had been legalized.

According to a recent Quinnipiac poll, 70 percent of Americans are against a federal crackdown on legal pot. The change in policy would allow US Attorneys leeway to decide if they would aggressively enforce federal marijuana law in their jurisdictions.

Steven Hoffman, the chairman of the Cannabis Control Commission, said this threat has not changed anything and MA will be moving forward. He said, "My opinion is this is a direct attack on states' rights and the will of the people in states".

A longtime critic of legalization, Mr. Sessions clings to the idea that marijuana use is a gateway to more risky and addictive drugs, a notion disproved by scientific research by such organizations as The National Institute of Medicine and the Rand Corp.'s Drug Policy Research Center. Gardner tweeted that he met with Senators to discuss the path forward on legal marijuana, pledging to "respect the will of the people [and] defend states' rights".

Sessions' announcement comes at a bad time for starting up Arkansas' medical marijuana industry.

Maine's top federal prosecutor said Tuesday that his office would focus on prosecuting traffickers of "hard drugs", not marijuana users. It discouraged the use of federal resources to enforce cannabis prohibition in jurisdictions whose own laws conflicted with federal law and encouraged a hands-off approach.

According to the Associated Press, Gardner said "nobody changed their mind in today's meeting", reporting no progress made in the meeting.

If the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment expires, Sessions could have the power and resources to federally prosecute cannabis business owners and consumers operating under state law. And it's hard to ignore the fact that Mr. Sessions' action would punish larger, bluer states like California, where recreational marijuana became legal last week, and MA, where it's set to be legally available in July. "President Trump has recognized medical marijuana as an appropriate exception to federal enforcement policy", Hutchinson said, "but he's not said the same thing about recreational use".

Polis continues to also push two bills, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act and the McClintock/Polis Amendment, that would achieve some safeguards for states with legal marijuana programs. Because the marijuana legalization movement has become a state-by-state issue, these local chapters largely work close to home with city and state governments. State officials have reported that there are now over 22,000 medical marijuana patients in the state and over 610 providers since the approval of I-182.

" 'One wonders if Trump was consulted - it is Jeff Sessions after all - because this would violate his campaign promise not to interfere with state marijuana laws'".