by: Michael ‘the Aging Ent’ Schroeder
owner, Green Owl Media
On January 4, 2018, Attorney General of the United States Jeff Sessions rescinded the 2013 Cole Memo, which provided protections from federal prosecution for states in which cannabis is legalized.
Under the Cole Memo, federal prosecutors were disallowed from using any resources to enforce federal laws prohibiting marijuana. Now, they have been given full oversight into how to enforce those laws.
Immediately, Colorado Republican Senator Cory Gardner responded that the DOJ “has trampled on the will of the voters” in the 8 states with recreational cannabis legalization. He also stated that the Attorney General committed to upholding the Cole Memo in conversation prior to his confirmation to office.
Washington’s Governor Jay Inslee stated that Washington will “vigorously defend” the votor-approved cannabis laws against federal intervention. He stated, “It … disrespects Washington voters who have chosen a different path for our state.”
The Attorney General of Washington State, Bob Ferguson, says Sessions has refused to meet with him. Gov. Inslee reinforced this refusal.
As the real impact of this change clarifies, many cannabis professionals offer different interpretations. Some propose this indicates a return to aggressive federal prosecution of cannabis laws. Others believe this is a preparatory to cannabis being rescheduled or removed from the Federal Schedule of Controlled Substances.