|(Jan. 4, 2018, 1:25 p.m.) -- U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions welcomed the new year -- in which a ballot-initiated, California-voter enacted law created a burgeoning consumer/retail adult use marijuana marketplace -- by issing a memo (text below) to U.S. Attorneys nationwide rescinding an Obama administration policy that had eased standards for marijuana prosecutions under federal law.
An accompanying release called today's announced federal marijuana enforcement policy "a return to the rule of law" and said that since passage of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, Congress has generally prohibited the cultivation, distribution, and possession of marijuana.
In the one page memo (full text below), Attorney General Sssions directs all U.S. Attorneys to enforce current federal laws and to follow what an accompanying release calls "well-established principles when pursuing prosecutions related to marijuana activities." The memo says those principles require federal prosecutors "to weigh all relevant considerations, including federal law enforcement priorities set by the Attorney General, the seriousness of the crime, the deterrent effect of criminal prosecution, and the cumulative effect of particular crimes on the community."
The memo adds: "It is the mission of the Department of Justice to enforce the laws of the United States, and the previous issuance of guidance undermines the rule of law and the ability of our local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement partners to carry out this mission. Therefore, today's memo on federal marijuana enforcement simply directs all U.S. Attorneys to use previously established prosecutorial principles that provide them all the necessary tools to disrupt criminal organizations, tackle the growing drug crisis, and thwart violent crime across our country.".
The memo, posted on US DOJ's website, can be viewed at this link.
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In recent years, some in Congress have tried to change federal law to legalize marijuana use, but their efforts have stalled. In February 2017, HR 1277 was introduced, proposing to amend the 1970 Controlled Substances Act to specify that the Act's regulatory controls and administrative, civil, and criminal penalties don't apply with respect to marijuana, removing marijuana and tetrahydrocannabinols from schedule I. [A schedule I controlled substance is a drug, substance, or chemical that has a high potential for abuse; has no currently accepted medical value; and is subject to regulatory controls and administrative, civil, and criminal penalties under the Controlled Substances Act.] The bill would also eliminate criminal penalties for an individual who imports, exports, manufactures, distributes, or possesses with intent to distribute marijuana, but does make it a crime to knowingly ship or transport marijuana into a state where its receipt, possession or sale is prohibited.
HR 1277's co-sponsors include Republicans Dana Rohrabacher (R, Huntington Beach) and Duncan Hunter (R, Temecula, Escondido, Alpine). The bill was sent to two House Committees in Feb. 2017 which sent it two subcommittees in March 2017...where it currently remains.
The return to previous federal prosecution policies introduces a level of uncertainty and risks for sellers and users in California's newly burgeoning market for cannabis related projects. On December 21, 2017, JackintheBox announced that it has teamed with a cannabis media/marketing platform "MERRY JANE" to promote a limited time offer -- a "MERRY Munchy Meal" -- aimed at late-night cannabis users from
On November 14, the Council voted 5-3 (Price, Mungo and Supernaw dissenting; Austin absent) on a motion to work with City departments to develop recommendations to legalize and regulate commercial adult-use marijuana businesses in LB, including an evaluation of the job labor aspect and social equity aspects; and based on findings and recommendations of the City Manager's study ask the City Attorney to prepare a draft ordinance to allow, license and regulate adult use marijuana retail sale, cultivation, manufacture, distribution and lab testing and in the interim adopt a temporary hold on allowing adult use marijuana businesses in LB until the ordinance is prepared and presented to the City Council.
(A motion by Councilwoman Price, seconded by Mungo, to ban the retail sale, cultivation, manufacture, distrubution and lab testing of adult juse marijauana and request a staff report at the end of the second quarter of 2018 [after city elections] identifying issues associated with adult use recreational marijuana didn't come to a vote, preempted by the prevailing motion made as a sustitute-substitute by its proponents.) .
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