With the U.S. attorney general on a personal crusade and a slew of handpicked federal prosecutors on his payroll, does the cannabis industry have cause to be concerned?
When the United States Senate anointed one of its own—Alabama Republican Jeff Sessions—attorney general in February 2017, the legal cannabis industry barely batted an eye. Although Sessions is an outspoken opponent of legalization (he infamously said “good people don’t smoke marijuana”), the industry rested secure in the belief the so-called Cole Memo would protect businesses and consumers. Written in 2013 by then-Deputy U.S. Attorney General James M. Cole, the memorandum directed federal prosecutors to leave enforcement of cannabis laws to local authorities in states that had legalized medical sale and use. Cole set out a few exceptions, including distribution to minors, diversion of funds to criminal organizations, and drug-related violence, but the primary message was “hands off.”
In May 2017, just three months after his swearing-in as the nation’s top cop, Sessions personally asked congressional leaders to rescind the 2014 Rohrabacher-Farr (now known as Rohrabacher-Blumenauer) amendment specifically so the Department of Justice