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Justice Department Reviewing Marijuana Enforcement

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On Apr. 5, Attorney General Jeff “Good People Don’t Smoke Marijuana” Sessions issued a memo outlining his request for a task force to look into several issues, including the enforcement of federal marijuana laws. The memo was sent to 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and Department of Justice division heads to provide “an update on the Department’s Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety.”

Sessions announced the creation of the task force on Feb. 27. The memo says its subcommittees “will also undertake a review of existing policies in the area of charging, sentencing, and marijuana to ensure consistency with the Department of Justice’s overall strategy on reducing violent crime and with Administration goals and priorities. Another subcommittee will explore our use of asset forfeiture and make recommendations on any improvements needed to legal authorities, policies and training to most effectively attack the financial infrastructure of criminal organizations.”

Read the full memo here.

The task force’s report, due by July 27, might be the first formal announcement on federal marijuana policy from the Trump administration, which has sounded some alarming notes on the issue. Sessions requested a report back from the task force no later than July 27.

On Apr. 3, the governors of the four states that already allow sale and cultivation of marijuana for adult use—Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Alaska Gov. Bill Walker—sent a letter to Sessions and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin calling on them to uphold the Obama Administration’s policies towards states with reformed marijuana laws as laid out in the 2013 Cole Memo. That memorandum instructs federal prosecutors in adult-use states not to expend resources prosecuting the sale or cultivation of cannabis as long as they follow a set of rules, such as not selling to minors.

“Overhauling the Cole Memo is sure to produce unintended and harmful consequences,” the governors wrote. “Changes that hurt the regulated market would divert existing marijuana product into the black market and increase dangerous activity in both our states and our neighboring states.”

Read the entire letter here.

Congress can deny Sessions the ability to even consider a crackdown on legal marijuana by approving the bipartisan Respect State Marijuana Laws Act, which would allow states to legalize medical or adult use of marijuana without fear of federal incursion.

To change government policy on cannabis, Freedom Leaf readers need to work on all levels—federal, state and local. Get engaged and be active. Contact your elected officials on pending legislation here and join your local NORML chapter.

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