OR responds to end of Obama-era pot policy

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones is not happy with U.S. Attorney General Sessions' recent marijuana enforcement memo rescinding Obama administration guidance that enabled states to legalize marijuana without federal intervention. "California voters chose to legalize adult use of cannabis in 2016".

"I'm not anxious. Everything we do here follows state laws, and everything is up to code". Trump told a TV news reporter that the decision to legalize marijuana should be left "up to the states".

By Thursday afternoon, one USA attorney in a key jurisdiction said Sessions' new guidelines wouldn't change federal enforcement there.

The move by Sessions has generated outrage among advocates for legal marijuana as well as some conservatives who believe the federal government shouldn't overrule the wishes of state government on issues like this. Still, the Justice Department, under President Barack Obama, took a hands-off approach.

On Jan. 4, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo that enables the federal government to intervene in the legalization of marijuana throughout each state.

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"We believe USA attorneys' offices should be opened up to bring all of these cases that are necessary to be brought".

Even as a series of states legalized the recreational use of marijuana, the possession, use or sale of the drug remained a federal crime. The tone set by Sessions today puts people in those states on notice as well.

The Cole memorandum states, "The department's guidance in this memorandum rests on its expectation that states and local governments that have enacted laws authorizing marijuana-related conduct will implement strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems that will address the threat that those state laws could pose to public safety, public health and other law enforcement interests".

"President Trump has recognized medical marijuana as an appropriate exception to federal enforcement policy, but he has not said the same thing about recreational use", he said. Before Sessions' announcement, experts predicted the US market might reach $50 billion by 2026.

Senator Jeff Merkley said, "There is nothing to be gained from going back to an era when federal resources were wasted prosecuting nonviolent cannabis crimes".

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Experts say they think the multi-billion dollar business now legal in some form in a majority of states is too large to bust. The Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment now protects state-compliant medical marijuana patients, caregivers and businesses from federal persecution, but it is only in effect until January 19; after that it will be reconsidered by a House-Senate conference committee.

Rosenblum, who characterized Sessions' decision as overreach, made no indication of specific next steps other than she "valued her working relationship" with Williams and looked forward to working with him. In November, Sessions named him the interim US attorney.

Jars of medicinal and recreational marijuana sit on a shelf in a display case at Sweet Relief in Astoria.

Former Republican Maryland state delegate Don Murphy, who now works in conservative outreach for the Marijuana Policy Project, said the AG's move, presumably sanctioned by Trump, is odd considering the populist wave in favor of decriminalizing marijuana across the country-not only in blue states, but places like Arkansas, the first Bible Belt state to legalize medical marijuana, and with 53 percent of the vote.

Arcview Group, an Oakland investment and market research firm that studies the cannabis industry, forecast an $11 billion USA market for legal marijuana this year - just over 60 percent for medical use, the rest for recreational use - and said it would continue to expand.

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  • Ryan Wade