Despite the fact that medical marijuana is legal in California since 1996, and as of January 1, 2018, adult recreational use is permitted, the U.S. Department of Justice is resistant. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has decided to change course from the previous administration which could result in a return to prosecuting people making a living in the billion-dollar industry.
Some of you may remember a memo sent out by President Barack Obama during his tenure? A statement issued directed prosecutors to take a “hands-off approach” regarding marijuana-related cases in states with legalized marijuana. Last week, AG Sessions voided president Obama’s memo, The Sacramento Bee reports. Sessions gave federal prosecutors the authority to pursue marijuana cases in states with legal weed, once again.
While it’s difficult to say what any of this will lead to at this point, some advocates are concerned that the order will cripple California’s new industry, one that is already off to a shaky start.
Marijuana’s Future in California
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Lori Ajax of the Bureau of Cannabis Control, and Hezekiah Allen of the California Growers Association have all spoken out against Sessions’ move last week, according to the article. Even though Becerra and Ajax have made encouraging statements in favor of legalization, Hezekiah Allen still has concerns that Sessions’ move could prompt some growers to stay in the black market.
The new U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of California has a history of going after people in the cannabis industry. President Donald Trump appointed to the Eastern District, McGregor Scott, who had previously served as an appointee of President George W. Bush. Before leaving office in 2009, Scott had a history of prosecuting people in California’s medical marijuana industry, including some high-profile cases. Scott’s re-appointment has some advocates reeling; it stands to reason that he may return to a similar approach.
Again, it’s still too early to tell what the Obama memo rescission will mean for California’s legal marijuana industry. After all, the voters have spoken, and the state’s AG has expressed his intention to uphold the will of the people. Sacramento cannabis consultant Jacqueline McGowan is optimistic:
“We are fortunate to live in a state where our attorney general has stated several times that he will respect the will of the voters and will defend compliant operators,” she said. “What the new era looks like will depend on us continuing to be a compliant and responsible industry. A memo being rescinded doesn’t change any of this.”
Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are facing charges for a cannabis-related crime in California, please contact Attorney Ronald G. Brower. With more than three decades of experience, he can provide you with a sound legal defense and ensure you find the best outcome possible.