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Is This the End of Legal Medical Marijuana, Too?

Is This the End of Legal Medical Marijuana, Too?

On Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Cole Memorandum, an Obama-era policy that took a hands-off approach to marijuana in states where it was legal. Instead, federal prosecutors, Sessions wrote, should decide for themselves whether to crack down on marijuana businesses. This likely spells trouble for recreational marijuana, which is now legal in eight

On Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Cole Memorandum, an Obama-era policy that took a hands-off approach to marijuana in states where it was legal. Instead, federal prosecutors, Sessions wrote, should decide for themselves whether to crack down on marijuana businesses.

This likely spells trouble for recreational marijuana, which is now legal in eight states and Washington, D.C. The move prompted an outcry from legalization advocates. “Enforcement is up to individual U.S. Attorneys, but this is a clear directive from their boss to start going after legitimate, taxpaying businesses,” said Morgan Fox, the communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, via email.

A provision called the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment protects medical-marijuana programs in states from federal interference. But that provision expires January 19, unless the new federal spending bill renews it. It’s not clear whether it will be included in, however, Congress decides to fund the government next. Justice officials told the Associated Press they “would follow the law, but would not preclude the possibility of medical-marijuana-related prosecutions.”

Under the Bush administration, DEA agents shut down 30 to 40 medical dispensaries, sometimes raiding them even if they appeared to be lawful. Eric Holder, the attorney general under most of President Obama’s tenure, signaled he would end law-enforcement raids on legitimate medical dispensaries in 2009. Still, medical-marijuana dispensaries in New Mexico, California, Colorado, and elsewhere were being raided throughout the Obama administration, sometimes for allegedly violating rules that came with the Obama administration’s supposedly more lenient approach, like trafficking marijuana outside state lines.

Read more at The Atlantic

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