Prosecutors in pot-friendly states will decide on crackdown

Sessions Unleashes the Hounds on Pro-Pot States

Legal experts do not expect a flood of new cases, and people familiar with the job of USA attorney say prosecutors could decide against using already limited resources to seek criminal charges against cannabis companies that abide by state regulations or their customers.

Republican U.S. Rep. Don Young on Thursday ripped the U.S. Department of Justice over a shift toward tougher marijuana enforcement, calling the move a "direct violation of states' rights". Sessions is leaving it up to federal prosecutors in states that allow its sale and use to decide whether to crack down on the marijuana trade.

"It is the mission of the Department of Justice to enforce the laws of the United States, and the previous issuance of guidance undermines the rule of law", Sessions said in a statement. Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado said he plans to reach out to other legislators from states that have legalized recreational marijuana - Alaska, California, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington - to seek congressional protection for those programs. Justice Department officials said they would follow the law but would not preclude the possibility of medical-marijuana related prosecutions. He says things will now be left up to federal prosecutors. Prosecutors there have always focused on marijuana crimes that "create the greatest safety threats" and will continue to be guided by that, he said.

"It's going to be up to the new USA attorney, but we don't know what her position is on this yet". Colorado, Washington, California and several other states have legalized marijuana for recreational use, notwithstanding federal prohibitions.

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The immediate reaction to Thursday's news from the marijuana industry and some members of Congress was alarm.

Lessar said, "The way I understand it the government just wants to be more involved in crimes like exporting and selling to children, which is not something I would necessarily be against, but we hear changes every day so it's still uncertain". The only time he's ever acknowledged marijuana was in May 2017, when he note (in a statement) that a spending bill he helped pass included a provision that prevented the DOJ from prosecuting medical marijuana cases in places where it's legal.

"Trump promised to let states set their own marijuana policies".

Some in the marijuana industry are taking a similar wait-and-see approach. The goal, he said, was to encourage a tightly regulated industry letting legitimate businesses operate but keeping cartels and gangs out. To say this is an established industry with thousands of people and livelihoods depending on it would be an understatement.

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"Jeff Sessions' obsession with marijuana prohibition defies logic, threatens successful state-level reforms, and flies in the face of widespread public support for legalization", said Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a drug reform advocacy group.

The move by Sessions has generated outrage among advocates for legal marijuana as well as some conservatives who believe the federal government shouldn't overrule the wishes of state government on issues like this.

The appointments are temporary, but the prosecutors could be named permanently as Sessions fills the vacant slots.

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