It's highly unlikely Sessions and his little minions will ever go after legal weed

It's highly unlikely Sessions and his little minions will ever go after legal weed

VicesJanuary 04, 2018 By Brian Frederick

There's one constant remaining the same in new media: anything delivered before lunchtime is often done so without proper analysis and then slapped with a shiny headline to draw out the anger and ire of social media.

The same seems to be true again today. This morning, a source close to Attorney General Jeff Sessions leaked that he will rescind a series of Cole Memos, directives leftover from the Obama era that essentially told U.S. State Attorneys to back-off of legal weed states.

The headlines floweth over before most even thought about their second cup of coffee:

"Marijuana industry thrown into chaos by Sessions decision"

"It looks like Jeff Sessions is kicking off his war on legal weed"

"Justice Department cracks down on legal marijuana with rollback of Obama policy"

Problem is, none of this is true at all.

It wasn't until the experts woke up, thumbed angrily through Twitter, and then took a moment to breathe and regain their thoughts did it occur to anyone that this isn't a big deal (just like when the Internet went berserker as rumors of the "DEA making CBD illegal" ran its morning course).

In an email statement to industry insiders, Brian Vicente of Vicente Sederberg LLC (also a main author of Colorado's Amendment 64) said everything is business as usual. The team is concerned there is a new focus on the legitimacy of states and their rights to make legalization decisions on their own, but that the Cole Memos were nothing more than guidelines anyway, and had no real power in the overall game of enforcement. 

"It was not a law or binding policy and, as it explicitly stated, it never altered the Justice Department's authority to enforce federal marijuana laws," Vicente says. "The rescinding of the Cole Memo does not indicate any specific changes in enforcement policy, and it remains to be seen whether it will have any significant impact on the Department's actions. U.S. attorneys had vast prosecutorial discretion before and they will continue to have the same level of discretion." 

U.S. Attorney for Colorado, Bob Troyer, agrees. Through his own statement, he said that there will be no changes made to Colorado enforcement, and that his department's main goal has always been about focusing on the illegal markets and stopping weed from getting into the hands of children. 

"The United States Attorney’s Office in Colorado has already been guided by these principles in marijuana prosecutions — focusing in particular on identifying and prosecuting those who create the greatest safety threats to our communities around the state," he continued.

So much for VICE's "war on legal weed" thing. ...

To boot, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman stated there was really nothing to worry about, at least in Colorado where business is booming. In a live Facebook feed, she took questions from reporters, doing her best to quell the angry mob. Her position is that the industry is a huge success in her state, and that she sees nothing changing moving forward.

"I would encourage people not to freak out," she said. "And you can quote me on that."

Yet even if Sessions does release the hounds on a multi-billion dollar industry, he'd be doing so in direct conflict with his boss, the President of the United States of America.

"We hope federal prosecutors will share the position that President Trump expressed during his campaign, when he stated that marijuana policy should 'absolutely' be left to the states," adds Vicente. "We also strongly encourage them to take into account the strong public support for letting states develop their own marijuana laws. Polls show nearly two-thirds of American voters — including a majority of Republicans — think marijuana should be legal for adult use. Even more have expressed opposition to the federal government interfering in state's marijuana policy decisions."

Maybe there's a lesson to be learned here after all. Wake up, enjoy your sugar-drenched bean water, stretch a little to keep the youth alive inside of you, and keep the headlines out of the morning routine — at least until lunch, after the experts have spoken. 

[cover image: DonkeyHotey via flickr]