In eight states, marijuana is both legal and illegal. Patrick Moen, a former federal drug agent now with Privateer Holdings, which invests in the cannabis industry, said Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ move rescinding Obama-era policies is largely symbolic, noting that the Justice Department did not send out a directive to crack down on the drug.
In many U.S. places, marijuana is simultaneously legal and illegal. Eight states have legalized recreational marijuana for adults. Other states allow the cultivation and distribution of pot for medicinal use, and many have decriminalized marijuana possession. Under the federal Controlled Substances Act, it’s the same weed it’s always been, a “Schedule 1” drug that is illegal to possess, much less grow or distribute. Attorney General Jeff Sessions took on the marijuana industry by rescinding enforcement guidelines issued by the Obama administration. Those guidelines had finessed the state-federal conflict by saying federal prosecutors wouldn’t go after people who complied with state laws, but would concentrate on drug cartels, money laundering and other high-priority targets, the Washington Post reports.
In canceling Obama-era policies, Sessions gave U.S. attorneys discretion to pursue criminal cases involving marijuana. He said federal pot statutes “reflect Congress’s determination that marijuana is a dangerous drug and that marijuana activity is a serious crime.” Proprietors, activists and consumers said such words aren’t going to shut down the burgeoning marijuana industry. In Portland, Or., Kevin Yearout of Stone Age Farmacy — where marijuana sells for $10 a gram and you can buy pot-infused gummies, caramels, jellies, lemonades, taffy, chocolate and cakeballs with “cannabutter” — smells corporate influence behind the Sessions announcement. Drug makers, he said. “want people to take pills and they can make money.” Patrick Moen, a former federal drug agent now with Privateer Holdings, which invests in the cannabis industry, said the Sessions move is largely symbolic, noting that the Justice Department did not send out a directive to crack down on marijuana. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, asked whether marijuana use is legal in his state despite the federal law, was emphatic: “In the state of California, it is legal. … “the federal government is not the state of California.”