Attorney General Sessions Clarifies DOJ Position on Legal Cannabis Businesses

This blog has discussed Attorney General Sessions and his recent actions to rescind the Cole Memorandum, an Obama Administration directive that federal law enforcement should not pursue cannabis businesses operating legally within a state’s regulatory framework.

Recently, General Sessions explained that, notwithstanding the retraction of the Cole Memorandum, the Department of Justice would still functionally follow the same policies based on a lack of resources:

Jeff Sessions“We’re not going to be able, even if we desired, to take over state enforcement of routine cases that might occur,” Sessions acknowledged. “Federal agents are highly paid, highly trained, and they work on cases involving cartels, international organizations, major distribution networks, large amounts of cash. And they deal with criminal organizations, RICO-type cases. And we’re not out there prosecuting those cases every day.”

General Sessions further added that federal prosecutors that haven’t been working on small marijuana cases before were not going to start working on them now.

While General Sessions did not specifically state that the Department of Justice would not prosecute cannabis businesses operating legally under state regulations, he more or less acknowledged that the cases that are brought would most likely focus on macro scale criminal conduct.  This is consistent with the policy directives in the Cole Memorandum.

This blog will continue to follow the federalism debate surrounding legal cannabis.

Jeremy focuses his practice on regulatory and business law. He specializes in gaming-related corporate, regulatory, licensing and compliance matters. Prior to rejoining Saiber, Jeremy served as Executive Vice President, Regulatory & Business Affairs for Coastal Development, LLC, a developer, investor and operator in casino resorts and racetracks. In that role, Jeremy was responsible for the company’s legal affairs, government relations and compliance functions, as well as sourcing, negotiating and executing on a number of business transactions.