There has been a lot of speculation as to the U.S. Department of Justice’s intentions toward the cannabis industry at large since Sessions rescinded the “Cole Memo” in early January. However, the action has served more to galvanize and mobilize federal and state lawmakers to step up the war against the War On Drugs and particularly the “Reefer Madness” going around Washington.
Now, according to a report on CBS News, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, speaking at a Federalist Society event in Washington D.C., says that his department lacks the resources to go after “routine cases” and will instead focus their efforts on breaking up “drug gangs and larger conspiracies.”
Answering student questions after his speech at Georgetown's law school, Sessions stated, "I am not going to tell Colorado or California or someone else that possession of marijuana is legal under United States law,” adding that federal prosecutors "haven't been working small marijuana cases before; they are not going to be working them now."
In referring to such issues as illegal marijuana-growing operations on national parklands and gangs that sell more harmful drugs, Sessions commented, "Those are the kinds of things each one of those U.S. attorneys will decide how to handle."
The Sessions’ Effect Is Small - So Far
Although the feds could still make some moves to annoy legitimate cannabis industry establishments, it is looking more and more like rescinding the “Cole Memo” is having little effect on states’ plans to continue to implement and regulate their medical and recreational marijuana programs.
Case in point: When governors across the nation recently convened in Washington to confer with administration officials, the consensus was that Sessions’ actions “[have] not had an impact on their plans to forge ahead.”
In one particular effort to deflect Sessions’ efforts to target the cannabis industry, a lawsuit initiated with the help of the Cannabis Cultural Association was filed in the Southern District of New York last July. The complaint challenged marijuana’s classification under the controlled substances act as a constitutional issue.
However, U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein dismissed the case on procedural issues, saying that it is not for the courts, but for lawmakers to decide, and instructed plaintiffs in the case to follow the proper administrative procedures.
Sessions, himself, has said that it is his department’s duty to uphold the laws of the United States, and if lawmakers do not like it they should change the laws.