The cannabis industry under President Trump and the newly appointed Jeff Sessions, Attorney General makes marijuana advocates wonder about the existing marijuana rights and its use. The reaction from the general public as to the nomination and appointment of Jeff Sessions has been conflicting or mixed. Many believe that President Trump’s main focus is on jobs and expenditure, but Jeff Sessions, on the other hand, could crackdown on marijuana rights and so there are many preparing for this in the worst way. We will explore some of the arguments about the cannabis industry as it stands under the new Attorney General, Jeff Sessions and to what extent will the new Attorney General let the existing marijuana rights stay in place.
The Cole Memorandum
According to the current federal law, cannabis is still considered as a Schedule 1 substance and dangerous drug as is LSD and heroine. It is not considered to have any medical use by the federal government. Nonetheless, the legal marijuana industry is still flourishing, even though, there is always a threat for federal prosecution. The reason for this is that cannabis has some protections under the law. The 2013 Cole Memorandum has put the enforcement priorities in place for the Department of Justice to follow as it relates to states that have legalized marijuana. The Cole Memorandum indicates that once the state has implemented strict and effective enforcement and regulatory systems, and does not impede the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) enforcement priorities, these states have marijuana rights that should remain. Some of the DOJ’s enforcement priorities that the states have to comply with are:
- Preventing marijuana from being readily available to minors
- Interstate delivery and shipment of marijuana
- Enrichment of drug cartels
If the states follow the DOJ’s priority to stop drug trafficking, then enforcement against current legally owned cannabis businesses and recreational or medical users will be a low priority for the DOJ. Rohrbacher-Farr Amendment is another legal protection for the legal cannabis industry as it is a budgetary provision, preventing the Department of Justice from using federal money to pursue individuals or businesses that operate in legal compliance with their states’ medical marijuana laws. So it is safe to say that states are currently protected to a certain extent by the Cole Memorandum and the Rohrbacher-Farr Amendment.
These protections are not set in stone, so to speak, and because this is a new White House administration, there could be changes made to the existing Cole Memorandum and Rohrbacher-Farr Amendment. One reason is that the Rohrbacher-Farr Amendment has to be periodically renewed legislatively as it relates to the medical cannabis laws and the Cole Memorandum can be invalidated by the new administration at will. The Rohrbacher-Farr Amendment has a renewal date of April 2017. Now that it is April, is the new administration set to make their own changes? This is something that we cannot predict, but we should brace for anything at this point. Many believe that Jeff Sessions will start by tightening up enforcement and investigations as it relates to those marijuana businesses that are not in compliance to what the DOJ wants.. In the meantime, the states are getting ready by soliciting their legal professionals to assess any legal defenses, if Jeff Sessions were to become hostile towards the cannabis industry. This move is in defense of fundamental marijuana rights and its legal use pursuant to the laws in each state.
The marijuana rights are fundamentally expressed in a similar way as the Bill of Rights and any rights that the Courts determines as protection of the interest of any person. Any laws that cause burden to the fundamental rights and liberty of individuals will be scrutinized by the courts. Several states were allowed to use medical cannabis and the number continues to grow. The cannabis industry has provided billions of dollars in tax revenue to these states and that also continues to grow. Many are hoping that the new White House administration and Jeff Sessions will keep this in mind if deciding to make changes to marijuana rights and its use. If you want to know more about marijuana rights and its use, go to the Cannabis Training University today.
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