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Sessions: US Prosecutors Won’t Take on Small-Time Cannabis Cases

March 12, 2018
Attorney General Jeff Sessions (Patrick Semansky/AP)
WASHINGTON (AP) — 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 the cannabis trade in states where the drug is legal, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Saturday.

Federal law enforcement lacks the resources to take on “routine cases” and will continue to focus on drug gangs and larger conspiracies, Sessions said. The comments come after the Trump administration in January threw the burgeoning marijuana legalization movement into uncertainty by reversing the largely hands-off approach that prevailed during the Obama administration, saying federal prosecutors should instead handle marijuana cases however they see fit.

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The Obama-era policy allowed the pot trade to flourish, with eight states legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

The reversal added to confusion about whether it’s OK to grow, buy or use marijuana in states where pot is legal, since long-standing federal law prohibits it. And it 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 said, answering student questions after a speech at Georgetown’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.”

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Of particular interest are problems that federal authorities have tried for years to tackle, like illegal marijuana-growing operations on national parklands and gangs that peddle pot along with more harmful drugs. Some law enforcement officials in legal-cannabis states argue the legal trade has caused unintended problems like black-market marijuana growing and dealing by people who don’t even try to conform to the legal framework.

It remains to be seen whether prosecutors will seek to punish state-sanctioned pot businesses. Some have indicated they have no plans to do so.

“Those are the kinds of things each one of those U.S. attorneys will decide how to handle,” Sessions said.

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  • Walt Corcoran

    They need to de-schedule cannabis and allow states to regulate cannabis as they please, your area wants a dispensary great an awesome but same for a town that doesn’t. We need to end punishing innocent people who made a healthier more sane choice of to altering our minds.
    Hypocrisyy needs to end

  • Corna Pocket

    “Some law enforcement officials in legal-cannabis states argue the legal trade has caused unintended problems like black-market marijuana growing and dealing by people who don’t even try to conform to the legal framework”…. ..yeah cause you know black market weed never existed before this whole legalization thing🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

    • Walt Corcoran

      They are desperate idiots grasping at straws.

    • Walt Corcoran

      We also still have moonshiners and absinthe makers don’t see anyone crying about that and saying we need to make alcohol illegal again no. my son in law buys an gets the stuff out of state hi test that will make you see tomorrow after 2 shots.

      • Jeffrey Avery

        hope your not seeing the future hangover…lol

    • Jeffrey Avery

      good point,,,,they make the weather. but ,when it rains, they stand in it and say ,oh shit its raining…then they blame the rain on the weather man..(LOCK ‘EM UP)………boot strapping…this aint the chicken/egg question…there’s proof,the black m’ was there already………these are just bumps and bruises of a new industry….like,there is still moonshiners,many years after prohibition….

  • Etidorhpa

    It must be nice to just smoke marijuana all day and live anywhere ,rent free in your tents.

  • TOBY T

    That’s what I’m going to do, trust someone (Jeff Sessions) that can’t seem to recall ANYTHING. Not!

  • Rainey

    Cannabis “drug gangs”? Reeeally? What “gang” would bother dealing large amounts of cannabis when individuals can grow enough for personal use on the patio using medical-quality seeds? Cannabis is bulky, strong-smelling and currently less profitable than other black-market narcotics — a detriment to illegal drug trade if ever was. I suspect the government’s primary concern is getting every tax dollar possible in states where cannabis sales are permitted, and using this gentle herb as an excuse for ignoring truly serious drug crimes such as importing large amounts of fentanyl. Fentanyl, btw, is responsible for the vast majority of overdose deaths.
    Lookin’ good, boys. Keep flashin’ those badges!