3 Things to Know About a DOJ Crackdown in States with Legal Marijuana

The DOJ reversed its policy not to interfere with states that have legal marijuana, what does that mean?


When the U.S. Department of Justice announced it rescinded its policy and would now allow federal prosecution of violations of the Controlled Substances Act in states with legal marijuana, businesses nationwide, states enjoying incredible revenues from the regulated sale of both recreational and medical marijuana and cities that have used pot to reshape their economies immediately asked questions about what can happen. Here's the top three things we have learned.

#1 Major Players Expect to Be Targeted

The first question EfficientGov had is are there specific cases the now-unleashed prosecutors are expected to push, and what are some expected consequences? Kellsi Booth, Associate Attorney for Premium Produce provided an answer via email:

"Because the DOJ has taken a hands-off approach to marijuana in states that have legalized it, there is little case law dealing with the prosecution of cannabis businesses at the federal level.

In Gonzales v. Raich, 352 U.S. 1 (2005), the Supreme Court uphold that the Controlled Substances Act prohibition on marijuana is a valid exercise of Congress’s Commerce Power. In United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Coop. (OCBC), 532 U.S. 483 (2001), the Court similarly found there is no fundamental right to access marijuana as a form of medical treatment – deferring to Congress’s finding that marijuana has no acceptable medical use and high potential for abuse.

The takeaway point from these cases is that the Controlled Substances Act is the law of the land, and it can be fully enforced against those cultivating, distributing, selling and even possessing marijuana. If federal prosecutors do decide to take enforcement action, I would expect that they would use their limited resources to target major players in the industry and make an example out of them by prosecuting to the fullest extent of the law."

Premium Produce, LLC is a Nevada-based cultivator and manufacturer of cannabis products for the state's medical cannabis program, with applications filed for the recreational market. In addition, Booth represents Cali Premium Produce, Inc., which was awarded three adult use cannabis licenses from Lynwood, Calif., to cultivate cannabis, manufacture, and distribute medicinal and recreational cannabinoid products.

#2 Most Leaders From Legal Marijuana States Stand Firm

By lunchtime after the announcement, Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado took to the Senate floor to condemn Sessions' actions.

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